Attracting Top Leadership Talent

  • Ezra
  • June 22nd, 2021

Attracting top leadership talent is more difficult than ever before. Ezra discusses why the need to become attractive enough for the best leaders to seek your business out, rather than the other way around, is a new necessity for top organizations seeking to future-proof their hiring strategies.

Attracting Top Leadership Talent

“An organization’s strength is determined in large part by the quality of its talent,” said Kim Stewart, SVP and director of talent management for First Citizens Bank. “In a competitive hiring environment, the way to attract great talent is by providing a strong organizational culture and opportunities for people to grow.”

This is a strong piece of advice that has begun to shape the way companies approach the hiring process. As of 2018, the average employee tenure was just 4.3 years for men and 4.0 years for women. This statistic could show a number of things. It might mean that employers are having difficulty keeping their staff, or it could mean that we’re experiencing a shift in culture to bounce between organizations instead of being loyal to a single company.

Whatever the case is, it’s clear that job changes are becoming more and more common. As such, it’s important to consider how we attract leadership talent and what we can do to make our companies the go-to destination for talented individuals.

What is “top talent” anyway?

“Top talent” is a fairly vague term that can be difficult to define. In many cases, top talent would refer to a highly sought-after individual that goes above and beyond what’s expected of them. They’re individuals that have the power to transform entire industries, and they always take the initiative to introduce positive changes to the companies they work at. They’re self-motivated, they have integrity, and they fit well in whatever team you place them in.

Holding on to top leadership talent like this can be tricky, especially because companies are always actively seeking to acquire top leadership talent no matter the cost. Considering how many outrageous CEO salaries and perks there are, it’s clear that companies truly value leadership talent and are willing to pay any price to acquire it.

Unfortunately, simply offering a higher salary and typical perks like healthcare aren’t enough to attract leaders now. Different companies use different approaches to keep their leadership talent; some will show the utmost respect and provide top leaders with a position that offers them almost complete control over the company. Others will still use money to attract top talent, going as far as to give them shares of the company in addition to a salary and annual bonuses.

You want talent looking for you (not vice versa)

Many companies focus heavily on finding top leadership talent and luring them to their companies. However, the better option is to establish yourself as an organization that allows leaders to develop their skills and advance their careers.

The important thing to remember about top leadership talent is that you can’t expect them to stay with you forever. The average CEO tenure for S&P 500 organizations was just 7.2 years in 2009, but this has jumped all the way to 10.2 years in 2018. While some companies have managed to hold onto their leaders for well over 40 years, smaller companies don’t have the luxury of throwing benefits and perks at their leaders to keep them in the organization.

As such, most leaders will use your company as a stepping stone to a much larger organization with more benefits and better perks. Companies may resist this and do anything they can to keep these leaders in their companies, but talented individuals have a knack for seeking out new opportunities in order to advance their careers. If they’re stuck in a leadership position of a company that has reached its peak, then they’re going to seek out better opportunities to utilize their talents and develop their skills.

This is the main difference between your average organization and an S&P 500 organization; they’re not looking for talent, talent looks for them. Top leaders want to be at the helm of companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon because of their reputation. Until your company reaches that status, you’re going to have to settle for other ways to attract talent.

Attracting top leadership talent

So how do you make your organization more attractive to top talent? There are a handful of ways to do this, but here are some of the best options as a regular company that is just starting to make waves in its respective industry;

  •     Top talent will use your company as a stepping stone, so establish yourself as one. Offer them training programs, coaching, and help them gain more experience in the field. If you support the learning and development of top talent, then they’ll be far more attracted to your company. LinkedIn reports that 59% of employees join companies for better career paths and more opportunities. It shows that their end game is with a larger company and it’s not just about finding work.
  •     Benefits need to go beyond just a higher salary. Consider offering them opportunities to apply to courses to improve their skills, give them career transition assistance, provide flexible working arrangements, and support their future endeavours instead of trying to limit their options by keeping them employed under your organization.
  •     Accept the fact that you will lose your top leadership talent. They will seek better opportunities even if you grow your company. There will always be larger organizations that attract your top leadership talent, so have processes in place to support this so you can quickly recuperate and maintain continuity even if a leader was to leave. Nurture your staff to become the next top leaders and encourage them to learn from top leadership talent that joins you.

It can be difficult to cope with the fact that top leadership talent will come and go, but it’s an important consideration to keep in mind if you want the best of your company. Top leadership talent will always seek out better opportunities with larger and better companies. You might not be able to compete with those juggernauts in your industry, but for now, you can set yourself up as a stepping stone to help them nurture their talents and take advantage of their leadership while you can.

Ezra has redesigned leadership coaching for the digital age to transform your company’s workforce through affordable, scalable and high-impact solutions that promote equitable access through our world-class coaching app. Find out today how everyone can be better with a coach.

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