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Attracting the Right CEO

The board’s role in wooing top talent to the corner office.


Directors & Boards | August 27, 2018



In the Directors & Boards article, “Attracting the Right CEO,” Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Constantine Alexandrakis provides tips for struggling companies to appeal to the right kind of CEO. The article is excerpted below.

Following a massive cyber attack at credit-monitoring behemoth Equifax late last year, the company’s long-time CEO retired, an interim chief was installed, and the search for his successor began.

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How did Equifax land Begor? The Wall Street Journal reported that Russell Reynolds Associates was the headhunting firm behind the placement, but a company official would not confirm or deny the story.

That said, Russell Reynolds’ Constantine Alexandrakis, leader of the firm’s U.S. business and its global leadership & succession practice, did agree to talk to Directors & Boards about how boards of troubled companies and beyond can attract the top C-suite talent.

“The fundamental rule is that no strong and dynamic leader wants to be a caretaker CEO. He or she — it’s in their DNA — will inherently want to go into a situation and drive growth, change, transformation and disruption,” he explains.

Directors should not be discouraged by the size of the challenge a company may be facing when trying to find top talent for the corner office. They must focus on an organization’s opportunities and the challenges, Alexandrakis stresses, “that a CEO with the right toolkit would be excited to take on.”

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It’s also critical for the board to be pretty united and specific before they even start talking to candidates, stressed Russell Reynolds’ Constantine Alexandrakis.

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“Our data shows that boards and others tend to gravitate to leaders that demonstrate the loud characteristics; that heroic approach to business and being able to galvanize the troops,” Alexandrakis explains, while shying away from the quieter person. But directors need to balance the disruptive with the pragmatic.

He suggests finding a leader who is heroic and vulnerable, someone who is able to balance galvanizing the troops with taking a back seat to the team, letting them drive things. “You want someone to bring everyone together, drive energy and new thinking for the company, but you also want someone who can empathize with people and be thoughtful of the bumps in the road.”

To read the full article, click here.

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Attracting the Right CEO