Top 3 Qualities to Look for When Hiring Senior Execs

November 2, 2022

What qualities do businesses prioritize when hiring senior-level executives? Given all the changes in our world, have organizations changed what they’re looking for when hiring senior leaders or developing high-potential employees?

We put these questions to longtime executive recruiter Don Patrick. We turned to Don because of his deep expertise. Don’s been recruiting senior executives for more than 25 years. Based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, he is president of the executive search firm Sanford Rose Associates® – Norcross

Don told us that even with all the changes affecting the business world, the qualities that he and his clients consider most important when hiring for senior leader positions have remained constant.

Whether you’re looking to hire a senior leader, develop employees who have leadership potential, provide senior leader coaching, or advance your own career and leadership mindset, Don’s insights into those qualities are really valuable. (For a deeper dive, click over to our LinkedIn article on this topic.)

Passion is No. 1

Passion is the top trait that Patrick looks for when interviewing for senior roles. “A passionate person is going to help build passionate teams,” he explains.

A candidate who’s passionate will show enthusiasm, be well-rounded and have broad interests outside work. They’ll also have done their homework about the potential employer.

Another indicator of passion is having professional growth and self-development goals. “People who are truly passionate about what they’re doing want to be better all the time,” Don says.

Humility is No. 2

The second quality to look for in candidates for senior leadership roles is humility. While you can’t measure humility, you can pay attention to how someone responds to questions like, What is your biggest inspiration and why? “If they can talk about what inspires them without puffing their chest out, it’s a good sign.”

“Another thing is to see if they can admit mistakes and how they’ve dealt with failure. If someone says, ‘That’s one of my strengths, I don’t make mistakes,’ there’s not humility there.” 

Don also listens for signs of integrity and whether someone has guiding values.

Resilience is No. 3

Resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks, is especially important when hiring for higher-level positions.

One way to assess resilience is to look at the length of a candidate’s tenure with previous employers. If the individual has stayed with employers for more than a year or two, “that shows they can live through the ups and downs, buckle down and get the job finished,” Don says.

Another approach is to ask about how the candidate has dealt with anger and how they might handle a hypothetical situation where a boss asks them to be less than truthful.

Many of the qualities that employers assess when recruiting for senior leader positions are aspects of emotional intelligence, or EQ. “Integrity, humility, resilience – when you start seeing those things tie together in a candidate, that makes somebody really attractive to a client,” Don told us.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

At The Workplace Coach, we’ve been partnering with its executive and leadership coaching clients to assess and develop emotional intelligence for decades. 

We know that Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is really essential to being a good leader. Leaders who have a high EQ are better able to handle emotionally charged situations like conflict. They are more aware of organizational and team dynamics and tend to be skilled at influencing and inspiring others.

The Workplace Coach offers clients several emotional intelligence profile tools, including EQ-i-360, Leadership profile and TTI DISC EQ, as well as career coaching and leadership coaching to assist leaders on their upward trajectory. 

Assessments and coaching are available both to individual clients and to organizations looking to identify and develop high-potential employees.

About The Workplace Coach

The Workplace Coach has deep expertise in business leadership. For more than two decades, its award-winning coaches have been partnering successfully with executive and leadership coaching clients and organizations to help them achieve their strategic goals. Leadership coaching clients report success in developing their leadership mindset and executive presence and in implementing leader-as-coach tools in the workplace to drive higher employee engagement and productivity.

Contact The Workplace Coach today to learn how to equip your team members for senior leader roles.

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