Category Archives: 2016

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Fired Up!

Category : 2016

As we depart 2016, we look back at an outstanding year.  As always, our clients and the many people whose paths we crossed along the way helped make this possible.  We thank you all.

Looking ahead to 2017, we are “Fired Up!” We are confident that our ceaseless commitment to performance, our unquestionable integrity, and our valuable market relationships will bring continued growth as we meet and exceed client expectations.

As a retained search firm, our primary focus is on HR leadership roles.  These roles include the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), senior level HR generalist roles, and key specialist roles, such as a Director or VP of Compensation & Benefits.  Our task is to successfully identify and recruit the most qualified talent our clients desire.

We look forward to building on our existing relationships and to the new relationships we will initiate in 2017.  We are “Fired Up!” about another exciting and fulfilling year as Leapfrog Executive Search provides the highest possible level of value to our clients and candidates.

Happy New Year!


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Talent Management or Leader Engagement?

Category : 2016

When did taking responsibility for developing people in an organization and creating a succession of talent that is prepared to assume greater leadership responsibility give a leader the unique distinction of a “superboss?”

In his insightful and well-researched book, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent, Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management and Director of the Leadership Center at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth investigates the behaviors of those he identified as the most effective leaders. Finklestein found these “superbosses”-

  • Focus on intelligence, creativity, and flexibility in hiring
  • Adapt the job to fit the talent
  • Accept that great talent will move up or out of the company
  • Set high expectations
  • Aren’t afraid to delegate
  • Continue mentoring after the emerging leader leaves the organization

Isn’t that list the foundation for effective talent management in any organization? Finding great talent while coaching and mentoring people to greater levels of performance is fundamental to any level of success in talent and performance management. Mercer underscored the core issue when their survey of 2500 managers in 1,000 companies found that over half of the employers gave managers a “C” or below in their ability to help people improve performance.

It appears that some executives think our fumbles on the gridiron of talent management are organizational failures rather than leadership failures. Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report opens with, “After three years of struggling to drive employee engagement and retention, improve leadership, and build a meaningful culture, executives see a need to redesign the organization itself . . . ”

While organizational design should support finding, growing, and moving up great talent, organizational processes won’t compensate for a lapse in leadership. The Deloitte report goes on to say the HR function is being charged with the role of steward and designer of the processes needed to create this organization of the future. HR leaders need to be careful they do not sign up to provide a well-crafted solution for the wrong problem, only to again be viewed as unable to “understand the business.”

Industry leaders like Bain, McKinsey, and Google begin the talent management process at recruitment, announcing on their websites the qualities they look for in candidates-passion, entrepreneurial drive, innovation, leadership, a bias toward action, and problem solving abilities. But adopting the targeted abilities or HR processes of another company isn’t the path to dynamic talent management. Trying to bring passionate and innovative talent into an organization where the behaviors (culture) of leaders won’t encourage and support the development of that talent will create a churn of great people that will be difficult to manage and a serious blow to a corporate brand.

Managing talent for the present-and the future, is addressed most effectively when it is first approached as a leadership issue, not a problem with organizational design or ineffective HR processes.


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Be Like Lane’s

Category : 2016

 ” . . . It’s easy. We just treat people the way we want to be treated. Everything else seems to work out . . .” (Dean Lane, Lanes’s Automotive)

He hasn’t studied Net Promoter Score. He doesn’t pour over piles of customer data every month. Every day, Dean Lane and the people working for him relentlessly pursue what they know creates loyal client relationships …

  • Results
  • Honesty
  • Responsiveness
  • Focus
  • Communication
  • Professionalism
  • Timeliness
  • Loyalty

Over the past 40 years Dean, and his family, has used that simple formula to build a profitable full service automotive repair company. For 15 of those years, our family has trusted Dean to maintain our vehicles, adding us to his list of loyal customers.

Retained search is vastly different from auto repair. How we pursue client loyalty – your loyalty- isn’t. At Leapfrog Executive Search, we have an uncompromising commitment to …

  • Getting you the results you want.
  • Completing your search in the way that best fits your needs-with or without our involvement.
  • Being available and ready when you need us.
  • Making every interaction an easy and positive experience for you.
  • Aligning our level of urgency with your business demands and expectations.
  • Maintaining a narrow focus on retained search dedicated to senior-most leadership roles in organizations, primarily in HR.
  • Demonstrating value that promotes a long-term relationship between our companies.
  • Providing accurate information that enables you to make effective hiring decisions.

Like Dean, we know client loyalty comes from delivering what a client needs…every time. Our highly personalized approach to retained search ensures that you acquire uniquely talented leaders who maximize your desired organizational impact.

Let us show you the same commitment that has enabled us to become a leading boutique retained search firm.


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Executive Assessments: Art or Science?

Category : 2016

From time to time we like to feature insights from a trusted organization in the Marketplace.  Take a few minutes to learn about both the art and science of executive assessments from…

Carson Consulting

Once upon a time, there was a capable but humble 30-something young executive (we’ll call him Cole) who was in sales. He had worked for reputable companies and developed good skills in the latest technologies. Eventually he married, moved back to his hometown, and applied for a new job. The leader of the organization was someone he had worked for before. She knew Cole’s work ethic and that he would be a good cultural fit. Further, he had the skill set they needed, and she had been looking for many months for the right candidate. Naturally, she was thrilled to hire someone she knew and trusted. There was one problem – based on the results of an on-line, pre-employment survey, the results did not support hiring Cole. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. They sent Cole for a full executive assessment; he was hired and is doing an excellent job.

The on-line, pre-employment survey is a ubiquitous part of many, if not most, job searches today. From mom-and-pop businesses to the Fortune 100, companies are implementing a variety of data-driven testing and assessment practices. Using data-analytics, behavioral scientists have been able to quantify what makes someone successful in a particular role. This is the science of assessment. Administered properly, pre-employment testing can help companies save time, decrease turn-over, and increase productivity and morale, as well as improve the odds of hiring high-quality candidates. As if that were not enough, on-line, pre-employment tests are relatively inexpensive.

With all the buzz about on-line testing, it might be easy to assume that traditional executive assessment is going the way of the home land-line telephone. Not so! There is great value in high-touch, multi-faceted assessment. Why? Because this type of assessment combines art and science. Executive assessment harnesses the power of data analytics and takes it a step further by synthesizing many data points of information with skill and insight no computer could ever replicate. A common frustration expressed by candidates is that they do not feel they are able to adequately express or portray themselves with yes-no or multiple choice answers. In executive assessments, psychometric testing is supplemented with structured behavioral and open-ended interview questions to present a far more complete picture of candidates – their strengths, developmental opportunities, preferred work environment, career goals, and specific things their boss can do to maximize their effectiveness and keep them motivated.

Let’s go back to Cole. While the executive assessor’s psychometric testing flagged the same potential liabilities that the original on-line, pre-employment survey did, they gave him multiple surveys that measured different aspects of work effectiveness. They asked questions, listened carefully, and ultimately drew the conclusion that his strengths would more than compensate. In addition to a custom report, they had a conversation with the hiring manager about how their company could maximize Cole’s skills, mitigate his weaker points, and get him off to a strong start. By the time they finished talking, the company had a clear on-boarding and development plan for Cole.

In addition to avoiding a bad hire, there is significant lost opportunity cost by passing on a strong hire. The moral of this story is – capitalize on the science, but never lose sight of the art, especially when it comes to something as important as your hiring decisions!


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15 in ’16: Chapter 3

Category : 2016

15 years ago George W. Bush was in the early stages of his presidency, Apple announced iTunes at the MacWorld Expo, the movie “Shrek” was released, and The People’s Republic of China was granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States.  15 years ago Leapfrog was formed and our story began.

Today, we are a thriving retained search firm, dedicated to the relationships that fuel our business, along with the passion to achieve the results our clients deserve.

As we look ahead, the next stage of our story is all about growth.  It is happening right now and will continue in sustainable fashion.  That means we are making significant investments, ranging from talent to technology, and much more, while carefully managing operating costs to support our longevity.  We know that sustainability requires maintaining focus to build well on our excellent foundation.  As we do so, nothing is more important than ensuring that our new talent additions are culturally aligned to support our values and outstanding search performance.

This is not growth at any cost or an attempt to be all things to all people.  This is not about integrated talent solutions that stretch beyond retained search.  We are focused on one thing…helping our clients acquire the best possible talent.

You will see us more in the marketplace.  You will hear from us with greater frequency.  Most importantly , you will watch us maintain our focus on…

Talent . Relationships . Trust


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How to Get Your CEO to Listen to You

Category : 2016

 Want to influence, drive change, advance your career?  We asked our friend, Joe Jordan of Jordan Development, Inc. to share some thoughts around getting your CEO to listen to you, at what can be critical junctures in your career.

jordanDevlopment
Click here to learn more


It is discouraging, frustrating, and even career limiting. You get a strategic opportunity to meet with the senior executive team to present a new initiative for inclusion in the coming budget cycle. You carefully prepare your thoughts. You create captivating slides to support your presentation. You rehearse in preparation for your single chance to make your case.

About five minutes and two slides into your presentation, the CEO interrupts. “We’re a little short on time. Where is this going and what exactly do you want? What is the expected outcome from the investment?”

You jump to your last slide and quickly explain how much you need and offer some anticipated results. The CFO responds with, “There are a number of priorities competing for funding next year. After we determine how well this aligns with our business objectives, we’ll see what we have to work with. Thanks for your time.”

That scene is repeated dozens of times a day. How can you keep it from happening to you?

Develop your business acumen. Business acumen is the ability to use financial, sales, operational, and human capital data to gain perception into an organization and make decisions that will lead to positive outcomes. Senior leaders use business acumen to formulate strategy, balance the drivers of business success, recognize critical interdependencies, and maintain a global, long-term mindset in how they approach the business. If you want to be heard in the C-suite, become fluent in the universal language of business. Know the business well enough to be able to position and explain any subject with regard to how it impacts cash flow, growth, expenses, and profitability.

Read Seeing the Big Picture, by Kenneth Cope or What the CEO Wants You to Know by Ram Charam to quickly enhance your ability to speak the universal language of business.

Think like an executive. The dynamic forces and rapid changes in global business environments create a demand for people at all levels of an organization to look at a business, evaluate information, and approach business decisions from the perspective of a senior executive. All senior executives share one thing in common-they live in a time-pressed environment where they quickly evaluate the information they receive and use that information to make decisions. If your CEO earns half of the average for a CEO in the U.S., his or her time is worth about $65 a minute. Living in a time-constrained world naturally encourages executives to be impatient. They quickly lose interest in or completely disengage from a meeting they feel is irrelevant or not using their time effectively. Executives are inherently skeptical. Their bottom-line focus naturally makes them look for the flaw in an argument before they explore the benefits.

Change the way you present. In an executive meeting, it is imperative that the first minutes clearly communicate the business alignment, strategic relevance, quantified value, and cost effectiveness of any recommendation or request. When you communicate with an executive, grab their attention in the first 30 seconds of your meeting. Be clear in how your topic aligns with the company’s highest priorities. Provide a point-of-view. Offer a fresh perspective on what is happening across the enterprise.

Traditional communication is structured like an inverted pyramid. The back-story, foundational arguments, research, and other data are used to create a context for the conclusion of the presentation, request, or discussion. Effective communication with an executive is structured like a pyramid. A small amount of research is referenced to show the presenter has prepared for the meeting. Then, the point or conclusion of the conversation is made first-usually in the first five minutes of the meeting. Detail is offered as needed. The pyramid approach ensures that if a meeting is cut short (as is often the case), the most critical information and call to action have been shared.

Senior leaders invest their time with people that bring them value. If your CEO won’t listen to you, perhaps you have not yet demonstrated you can tangibly impact what is important in his or her world. Develop your business acumen. Learn to think at the level of a senior leader. Speak and present in a way that concisely makes a point that is relevant and focused on business outcomes.