Increasingly, organisations want to bring in new thinkers with new ideas into their business. They want people who can disrupt and innovate, and in doing so, drive the business forward both strategically and operationally.

In order for businesses to break the cultural and technical mould and get out of their comfort zone, executive search shouldn’t be just about ‘appointing’. It should be a smart and targeted focus to find people who will help your business to think differently, who will offer a fresh perspective, and who can strengthen your organisation. But is your organisation truly ready for a disruptor and challenger of the status quo?

The 'disruptor' versus culture fit challenge

Can you just bring in a disruptor at a senior level and expect the rest of the organisation to adapt overnight? Research shows that a significant number of senior hires fail because the culture fit isn’t right. So how do you resolve this conundrum?

Culture fit is what holds your company together. And with any new hire, you need to be confident that they will work well with your team and fit within your organisational values. Then again, hiring for culture fit raises the risk of bias, be it conscious or unconscious. Additionally, as a senior leader in a business, you wouldn’t wish to have your entire team made up of the same or similar style performers. Instead, you need a blend of different styles, approaches, mindsets and personal drivers across your people.

If, as a business leader, you have decided to bring in a disruptor, perhaps the biggest question is: will you back them when they start to shake things up and ruffle feathers? Do you hire and openly communicate to stakeholders (and the newly appointed individual), that they may have an employment lifespan, i.e. they will bring disruptive ‘value’ for a certain period of time?

Moving to potential generational questions, the conundrum will become more acute as younger generations start to head into senior appointments. Arguably they will bring with them a new outlook on ways of working and a very different ethos to the generations before them. How these differences are met by the older generations (who may currently be holding the weight of decisions at the senior level) is a challenge that organisations are having to manage closely. We discussed the implications of managing a multi-generational workforce in a previous post.

Being flexible?

If organisations go to market with a very rigid idea of what it is that they seek in a new search appointment, then they may never find the right talent solution There needs to be a degree of flexibility around what it is that you’re after in order to get the best possible outcome for your business.

The more flexible you are around how you structure a role versus the rest of the team will ultimately dictate how successful you are at securing the right person for the position. This also means organisations need to be open to feedback in terms of both how your organisation and the role itself are being perceived by potential candidates.

Creating a strong partnership with your search firm

A good search firm will strive to gain a deeper understanding of your business, your culture, the gaps you’re looking to fill, and provoke new thinking. They’ll ask questions like ‘are you ready for this new type of person?’ ‘how flexible can you be around this kind of remit in your business/team?’, ‘how will you measure success?’ and ‘how will you onboard them?’

The best relationships are those based on a trusted partnership. Organisations are now looking to search firms as strategic advisors, drawing on their learning and expertise gained in the market place. The ideal partnership is to get to a point where you trust the search firm enough to find the best fit for your business with little in the way of a formal brief. This means having full confidence that your search consultant understands your business and will represent you to potential candidates in the best possible way.

A trusted search partner would argue that the most successful disruptors are those who listen to their team and channel their energy to challenge the status quo and consequently avoid business complacency. Working with a search firm that knows your business, your people and your goals inside out means you’ll have much greater success in finding the right person to bring healthy change and inspiration.

Dealing with disruption

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