Mission-Led Search Strategy – Assessing senior leadership candidates

When assessing candidates for a senior leadership hire two main criteria are predominantly deployed.

Does the candidate have the requisite experience aligned to this role?

Is the candidate a strong cultural fit for the organisation?

Is there alignment?

While these criteria should absolutely be asked as part of the assessment process, our experience has shown a third criteria, which is of equal importance.

Does the organisations mission align with the candidate’s narrative?

This speaks to motivation and desire, without the underlying drive to perform the role, experience and ability to connect with other employees becomes a moot point.

Most organisations have a mission, to solve a problem and make a difference. The first question to ask in deploying a mission-led search strategy is does the mission resonate with the candidate? This is not the same as does the candidate have experience in this area. In EdTech for example, many candidates have never worked in education. However, for a multitude of reasons they have a strong desire to be part of an organisation making an impact on learning outcomes. Perhaps their relatives are teachers or access to learning played a crucial part in their life.

Find underlying drivers

In searching out for these underlying drivers, connections can be made. This is not the same as traditional cultural fit, which often means are they like me. Do they share the same interests and background? In a mission first search strategy your pool of candidates will be more aligned and will naturally be more diverse.

When the first question has been answered the second more important question must be posed. Does the candidate’s narrative align with the mission? Does it make sense when talking about the candidate’s journey, that the role they are applying to is the next step?

This will be different from examining if a candidate has performed a similar remit. In which case you must ask why they would want to repeat the same stage of their journey. In a hero’s journey there is progression and development in the form of new and bigger challenges. It is far more likely that in the hero’s mission that their experience up to this point indicates it is the right time to take on this new remit.

As unique as the roles

Someone like me, who has delivered a similar remit, provides a level of confidence and trust though not always results. It does not promote diversity, new ideas and the high levels of motivation often required for sustained growth. A candidate who has performed the remit previously, for example, will be inclined to rinse and repeat methodology rather than look for innovative new ways to deliver in more effective way.

Every search is unique and there are absolutely times to hire in safe experience, especially for short-term high-risk projects. If you are hiring for the mid to long term, look closely at the narrative. If you align the candidate’s hero journey with the organisations, then intrinsic motivation will be assured regardless of the future obstacles to success.

Sienna Edge delivers leadership solutions for technology in areas of positive social impact. To find out more about mission-led search strategy please contact us. Your mission is as important to us as it is to you.