Talent Steward & Value Creator
Value creation is key in executive search
We’re attending the annual CEO & Board member conference that Caldwell Partners organizes in Charleston, SC. In between and after the meetings, speeches and workshops, there is time to chat, have dinner and enjoy the annual Spoleto festival. Great time to visit Charleston, and the perfect opportunity to catch up with Jay Millen. We’re discussing the need to create value, both for clients and candidates.
How do you view change?
We talk a lot today about change and the speed of change all around us. We certainly are seeing a lot of innovation, but I think we sometimes lose perspective. Let me share an anecdote with you, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
My grandfather was a physician and researcher for most of his career, a man of the world, especially in his day.
I still vividly recall a conversation we had about change and technology in the mid-1990s; just before he passed away. He chuckled at my view on change and reminded me that when he was born there were no airplanes, the automobile had just been invented – his father had the first one in Clinton, SC – and antibiotics didn’t exist.
During his lifetime the computer was invented, antibiotics became routine, we put people in space, and commercial aviation became routine. Now that is change!
How would you define success and the ability to change business?
With that perspective, I think one of the greatest determinants of success is the individual leader’s ability to adapt to change and create a cadence in the organization to embrace and accelerate change at a pace that the organization can all move together.
How new leaders fit into the existing culture and can keep it or transform it dependent on what is called for, is a critical part of that change leadership DNA.
So… – when there has been a failure – and I am called in to recruit a new leader in a part of the business or to lead a group, even at the CEO level; I almost always find that the reason for failure is that the individual couldn’t adapt to the other company, could not work well enough with the team, or could not adapt to the culture to be successful.
It is rarely a lack of skills or expertise that is cited as the cause of failure. Conversely when we are called upon to replace a retiring or promoted leader, the chief concern is almost always the ability of the placement to sustain or enhance the leadership culture and environment of the business that has been successful so far.
How can you really make a difference as an executive recruiter?
I believe the true differentiator in the work I do with clients is their willingness to invest in a joint understanding of the business and the culture to ensure we get the right executive candidates from a values, vision, and culture frame of reference.
As a result: what I measure for success isn’t placement rate or the time it takes to place a candidate – the traditional measures. Instead our team measures “stick rate” and business results improvement in more senior roles.
Great results come from great leaders, who can create and develop great teams, and have the vision and values to generate enthusiasm and collaboration throughout a business. And that is differential value.
It is truly an honor and a blessing to be associated with those kinds of leaders and to have the opportunity to work with them which is why I enjoy this business so much.
Jay Millen - Caldwell Partners
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"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."
- Ralph Nader
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