I posted a link to an interesting article about change-friendly CEOs on LinkedIn earlier today. The posting seems to have struck a chord with several correspondents—both on LinkedIn and via direct message—so I thought some additional comments would not be amiss.
One correspondent suggested that interest in recruiting 'change-friendly' CEOs is nothing new, that advertisements have called for such attributes and capabilities for many years. I agree, because I've seen many similarly written advertisements as well.
So why is the Heidrick & Struggles report news? I suspect it's because there is a yawning gap between desire and reality: advertisements call for one thing, yet recruitment processes and decisions prioritise something quite different.
In my experience, many directors—particularly of larger, widely-held companies—seem to be more interested in preserving their reputations than in embracing change. They tend to make 'safe' choices that don't rock the boat too much. Rather than making choices that will enhance the company's future position, directors often make safer choices, to minimise the chance of failure and any resulting damage to their reputations. Protecting against failure can be smart, but when the mitigation of risk results in staying within safe harbours, the only loser is the company itself. How can a company succeed in a competitive market if it does no innovate or change in response to changing environmental conditions?
The Heidrick & Struggles report is timely. It demonstrates that people are now talking about the right things. But when will Boards and shareholders take note of such reports, and adopt a more positive approach to recruitment, corporate strategy and company growth? Soon, I hope.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.