Pecking Order Theory and the Search for the Super Candidate

Pecking Order Theory and the Search for the Super Candidate

Category : 2017

If pecking order comes up in a business conversation, the discussion generally goes one of two directions. Most often, visions emerge of dominant leaders and less-assertive followers trying to engage productively (often without success) in a winner-take-all watch-your-back environment. Less commonly, an interaction about pecking order moves to the business financing model where companies prioritize their financing sources based on which is easiest to obtain first.

When you couple these trains of thought together, a common approach to finding talent emerges.

First, many companies approach a search for talent by unconsciously mirroring the results of Purdue biologist William Muir’s intriguing study in productivity. Knowing chickens are social creatures, Muir selected one flock and left it alone for generations. A second flock was populated with individually selected “super chickens” from which he carefully chose the most productive to continue in the brood.

After six generations, Muir discovered the first group was full of plump and happy birds that had dramatically increased egg production. The second group did not fare so well. Only three survived the experiment. In a quest for dominance, they pecked the rest of the flock to death.

When a company launches a search for a senior leader, the list of qualifications, requirements, and professional experience often becomes a description for a “super candidate.” The quest for a candidate that can leap any business challenge in a single bound, drives companies to then engage in the financial pecking order—choosing whatever search firm is “easiest” to engage, without considering the process followed during a candidate search.

A well-recognized, multi-national retained search firm often has the name recognition that draws the interest of an impressive list of “super candidates.” But the behaviors that secured a leader’s place on that coveted list, might be the style of interacting and working with others that Muir observed in his experiment—highly productive and extremely destructive.

A boutique firm like Leapfrog Executive Search uses a highly-personalized approach to every request for talent. We’re easy to work with—the difference is in how we approach each engagement.

We invest the time required to gain a complete understanding of each client’s organization, culture, goals, and candidate requirements. We then launch an equally-personalized approach to connecting with candidates—many that we already know from our extensive network and targeted relationship development across industries and roles.

The next time you need senior talent, call Leapfrog Executive Search. We will go beyond looking for a super candidate to finding the right candidate, the person who can deliver results while developing both the people and your organization around them.