Choosing the right leaders in turbulent times

N°221a – Synopsis (8p.) – Talents and Careers
Choosing the right leaders in turbulent times
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How can one choose future leaders, who will renew the business without alienating its identity? Rather than defining an ideal profile, mixing various styles and experiences is the best way to face today's and tomorrow's challenges.

In today’s turbulent economic environment, companies increasingly seek to foster innovation, initiative and risk-taking, with an acute awareness that business continuity is not enough to surmount the challenges they face. Managers and leaders are now expected to question established models and imagine creative solutions rather than reflexively attempt to replicate the status quo.

These objectives are reflected in current and future leadership candidates selected by companies when recruiting young managers, managing careers or identifying CEO successors. In particular, companies are asking themselves how heavily they should rely on their pool of home-grown talent, whether formally or informally identified. They wonder if the internal screening process might be best at “cloning” managers in the same mold and question the continued relevance of managerial selection criteria to address the challenges of today and tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to look outside the organization for fresh perspectives?

To answer these questions, we sought opinions from experts who have analyzed the pros and cons of hiring leaders whose style and experience diverge from company norms. We drew three principal lessons from their observations:

- Think in terms of complementary profiles. Rather than exceptional individual qualities, companies are advised to seek a blend of complementary profiles.

- Dare to select atypical profiles. Atypical individuals can trigger radical change and innovation, a particular strength in turbulent environments.

- Manage risk. Entrusting important responsibilities to atypical leaders is a gamble, and the corresponding risks must be understood and managed.

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