Author Archives: Administrator

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!

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

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.

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.

15 in ’16: Chapter 2

Category : 2016

Last month we shared about our journey to the present (Chapter 1).  As we move through our 15th year, let’s take a look at our organization today.

Previously, we talked about “survival preceding success”, so … it’s great to be here and to have prospered along the way!  Let’s start with a bold statement.  We believe that a defining characteristic of our organization is what many people would call passion.  Stated another way, we believe that we care more about achieving the right outcomes for our clients.  We have a track record of producing results by marrying a built-in sense of urgency with process discipline.  As the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “be quick but don’t hurry”.  This is how we are wired.

How this is accomplished is instructive as well.  We will not outmuscle larger retained search organizations with our marketing spend.  We remain committed to adding value to and through relationships as well as through hard work – grit – in order to differentiate our ability to deliver results.  In other words, having ridden out several economic cycles and having performed at a high level for a significant period of time, we are a bit feisty.  An example you may have noticed is that we recently retired our website, updating it with a much improved offering.  We like it and hope that you do as well, however, we want to point out that websites and other shiny objects do not complete searches … talented and dedicated team members do, and we have them!  Our seasoned, productive and committed professionals are located in Chicago, IL, Scottsdale, AZ, Austin, TX, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  The investment in our team members translates into an ability to help you obtain the best and brightest talent.  Here is how we describe our team: they are great people; great people complete searches!

We have long had a dedicated focus on HR leadership roles.  These roles range from CHRO’s to varied tiers of the HR organization, as long as they leverage leadership to impact the organization.  Additionally, we have quietly worked in other functional areas when called upon by clients who admire the way we handle ourselves in the marketplace.  We suspect we will do more of this work over time.

We are often asked about the geographic boundaries of our work.  Being based in the DFW area we certainly perform a concentration of our work here and throughout Texas.  As our business has expanded, we have worked from coast to coast and continue to enjoy completing domestically-based assignments, in numerous markets, including those that have global responsibilities.

What has changed over the past 10-15 years?  Not surprisingly, the advent of technology solutions like LinkedIn has helped organizations adeptly meet some talent needs that previously required outside assistance.  A lot of the low hanging fruit is off the tree.  What remains are searches that require skill and expertise, and the commitment to complete them with excellence.

We have an expanding appetite for new challenges and continued growth. With a bright future ahead, we will tell you more next month in Chapter 3.

Overcoming Personal Constraints

Category : 2015

Our commitment to building relationships w/ HR leaders, functional business leaders, and the vendor community, gives us unparalleled access to talent. An example of these relationships is the one we have with The Flippen Group.

Have you relied on results from your personality test or ‘played to your strengths’, only to find yourself treading water? Strengths don’t single-handedly define our success. Even with a laundry list of strengths on our side, we are held back by behaviors that limit our performance or are the reasons for our failure. Personal ConstraintsTM set the boundary for level of success. You can identify your constraints and make a plan to overcome them, resulting in a dramatic surge in success, productivity, and happiness. In short, you’ll discover who you were born to be.  As we head into the new year, and you look to strengthen your performance and that of your team, find out more from this Flippen Group blog:

Happy New Year!

15 in ’16: Chapter 1

Category : 2015

2016 will mark a significant occasion…our 15th year in business. We want to take the opportunity to thank you and share how we got here, our current state, and where we are going. We will tell the story over three separate installments.

So, consider this Chapter 1, “How We Got Here”. From very humble beginnings, we began to invest in relationships, frankly without the laser-like focus most “experts” would recommend when you start a new venture. But, you know, we were onto something. The same focus on relationships that made sense in 2001 remains the bedrock of our business philosophy today (more on this later).

As a small, underfunded, entrepreneurial venture in those first five years, cash flow was an important consideration. In sometimes miraculous fashion, we managed to generate enough business activity to make it to the next day, leading to one of our favorite lines: “Survival precedes success!” As we moved into the following ten years we were blessed as talented individuals joined our team. Our retention has been outstanding and our talent philosophy is simple…we engage great people!

As a team, we gained valuable experience and intellectual capital as we built internal systems and processes. Along the way, we have had the privilege of working with numerous large companies whose brands are easily recognizable, smaller and mid-sized organizations – a number of which have been venture capital backed, and some small companies that are unrecognizable to most …they all matter!

Hard work and determination…grit! Executive Search can appear glamorous and at times even look easy. The truth is that our success has been driven by an unrelenting desire to succeed and the satisfaction of a job well done. Our clients who achieve their talent objectives and our candidates who land meaningful and rewarding roles have provided incredible momentum allowing us to strive for more.

Bookending “grit” is the aforementioned “relationship” component. We believe our success is founded in our desire to perform. In doing so, we have leaned on the words of Zig Ziglar, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” We have been privileged to be in relationship with tremendous people – like you – and that is the most fulfilling part of our work!

For now, that’s the tale of how we got the ball rolling. Look for Chapter 2 shortly after the first of the year.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season and a festive New Year!