How to Find the Best Leaders for Your Clients

By Ronny Cheng

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Facilitating a successful executive hire is much easier when you can present clients with executive candidates that are a good fit for their executive leadership team. Determining the “fit factors” for both clients and candidates is possible, but only through a data-gathering effort on your part (this process is much easier with the right executive search software in place).

In order to present qualified, best-fit candidates, you need to be personally familiar with your client’s executive team, their work/leadership styles and their requirements for the hire. This information will also help in determining which candidates will work best with your client/team.


Finding Fit for Client and Candidate


The first step in solving the “fit” equation, is becoming familiar with your client’s executive team, getting a feel for the leadership styles/personalities of its members and understanding the way work is currently being done. You should also learn about the key stakeholders for this position, and which executives, board members, managers, etc. have the strongest ideas about the executive hire you’re facilitating.

You don’t want to facilitate a misfit job opportunity for your executive candidates, and you definitely don’t want to stick your clients with a leader that they can’t work with. Both the client and your candidates need to know what they’re getting into, and it’s your job to show them.


Presenting Candidates with Client Information


You must gather detailed information on your client’s company and the leadership team your executive candidates will be introduced to. This information will be crucial in qualifying candidates for fit with the job and the leadership team, but it will also be essential for recruiting executive talent.

Candidates need to experience a good fit as surely as your client, and giving them key info on the job up-front, will ensure that interested candidates remain interested throughout the recruitment process. It will also show candidates if they aren’t actually a good fit, and save you a lot of time in the process.


Gather and present your candidates with key information on your client’s job opportunity:


Ongoing Projects:

Executive candidates will want to know what sort of projects they will be taking on. Whether they agree with current strategies or not, these projects are what they will be working on (or cutting) if they are hired. Presenting candidates with information on ongoing projects is key for determining their eligibility to manage this work and their interest levels in doing it. To test if an executive candidate is a good fit for your client’s needs, present them with a complete picture of your client’s current projects and business model.


Ongoing Problems:

Every company has problems. Whether it’s a competitor, a stop-gap or an in-explicable decline in any company KPI, you should brief executive candidates on the challenges they would be facing. You shouldn’t give out any proprietary information, but your candidates should have a clear idea of business challenges they will be up against. This way, only candidates who are undaunted by your client’s challenges make it to the interview chair.


Organizational Politics/Ethics:

Leaders have very specific ideas about ethics and you should give candidates an accurate idea of the political/ethical culture of your client’s executive team. It is always best to know about potential political/ethical deal-breakers up-front, so that time isn’t wasted on presenting your client with a non-starter candidate.


Executive Team Personality

Everyone has their own unique personality and, by extension, so does every team. You should always brief candidates on the personalities of executive team members and the kind of business environment they would be entering.


Executive Team Communication/Negotiation Style:

Some people are excellent public speakers. Others prefer to communicate in the form of long-form writing or even through instant messages. Knowing how your client’s executive team prefers to communicate will be essential for presenting a compatible candidate. Likewise, it will be essential for preparing candidates for communicating and working with the executive team.


Board of Directors:

Executive candidates need to work well with the client’s board of directors. These people can be difficult to spend face-time with, but you should find some way to communicate with board members about what they’re looking for in an optimal hire. Knowing what the board is looking for will help to qualify and prepare candidates for working with the client’s board of directors.


Resources on Hand:

Many executive candidates will be wary of taking a position where they will have fewer resources at their disposal than they’re used to. Learning the extent of the resources available for them can be delicate, but this information is crucial for ensuring the continuing interest of your executive candidates during the recruitment process.


Presenting Clients with Candidate Information

Knowing that your candidates are compatible with the executive team is the first step, but you still need to demonstrate this compatibility to your client. You should present all major stakeholders with extensive information on potential “best-fit” candidates, as to facilitate a faster candidate search and productive discussions during the interview.


Gather and present your client with key information on candidates:


The executive/interviewing team will be most interested in the accomplishments and experiences that make your executive candidates worthy of their consideration. Along with their complete work history, you should provide stakeholders with specific examples of candidate accomplishments that demonstrate their ability to grow companies.

You need to prove that candidates have experience improving the KPIs that your client cares about, and presenting them with proof will help interviewers to focus on these areas of interest and explore them with candidates.



The executive team may be wary of hiring someone who clashes with their personalities. Being informed that a candidate is particularly out-spoken or soft-spoken will help the executive team to conduct effective interviews and evaluate whether there is a good fit with candidates.

Present stakeholders, interviewers and members of the executive team with instances of strategic decision making that demonstrates a candidate’s personality and/or ethical leaning. For instance, did the candidate choose to go back to prototype with a defective product or release it and attempt to correct the problem with the aid of customer feedback?


Leadership Style:

It is crucial for candidate leadership styles to fit with the leadership style of the executive team. The executive hired will be leading new and ongoing initiatives and they must be in-line with the established/prevailing leadership style of the client’s company.

Provide stakeholders with candidate experience snapshots that demonstrate their leadership style. Whether these are snapshots of successes won or disasters averted, you want to present the leadership team with winning examples of your candidate’s leadership in action. These events will be key points of interest for interviewers and will assist them in exploring the leadership style of the candidates that you present. 


Candidate Demands:

Negotiating executive hires can be time-consuming. Some candidates will have very specific desires and demands, and the negotiation process will be much smoother when these demands are known by the client from the beginning.

Always learn what your executive candidates are expecting for their services. This way, you can avoid the agitation of learning that a deal is doomed when you’re about to close it.

By learning all you can about your client’s executive team, you can present them with candidates who are selected to be the best fit possible. Similarly, intimate knowledge of the leadership team will help you evaluate candidate interest in and fit with your client’s job opportunity. When the executive team and your executive candidates know more about each-other going into their first meeting, the stage is set for the productive discussions that lead to a successful hire.


About the Author

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Ronny Cheng

Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder's of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes -- from startups to Fortune 500's. He’s currently working with Clockwork Recruiting, a leader in executive search software. Clockwork Recruiting is proven to help executive recruiters make placements 48% faster than competing products and provide complete solutions to their needs. Catch a free demo to see it for yourself.

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