Where should your next great leader come from?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Blog
Too many times, organizations get caught up with trying to recruit people from the same industry they’re in. You know what they need? They need a breath of fresh air. They need some new insights. They need to realize that a person from their industry just might not be the right person to growth their business.
When I’m doing an executive search in the financial services industry, what people say is “We need someone who really understands our industry. We need someone with a solid financial services background.”
What I hear is “We need someone who can help us maintain our slow, stodgy, process-laden ways of doing business that are comfortable for us, and in turn, make it difficult for us to compete effectively.”
Maybe here’s what your organization needs. Someone who has no idea how your industry works. And I mean that in a good way.
If a person doesn’t have industry experience, an organization thinks it’s justification to pay that person less. No, it should be the other way around. You should have to pay more for lack-of-your-industry expertise. They’re bringing new ideas, new insights, new ways of doing business – and increasing your ability to compete effectively. That is worth so much more money!
Think about SoFi (Sofi.com) short for Social Finance with a recent investment round that has it valued at around $4 Billion, yes, billion. SoFi is not only making the process of loans easy, but it is paving the way to capture more of the consumer’s investment and banking dollar. It may be a financial services company but it acts more like a tech company.
Some industries didn’t have a choice but to find people from other sectors. Remember when the solar world caught fire? They recruited from the semiconductor industry pretty heavily, because no one had any solar experience. It’s a similar situation with cybersecurity. Cyber does have a fair amount of people with government security experience, but still too few people for too many positions. What do you do now? You hire them and teach them your business. The good news. They can learn it. The better news. They can bring knowledge and thinking from other industries and perspectives.
The next time you seek out a new head of anything, be smart and look beyond your industry. Think about the lessons from other industries that new thinking could bring to your party. Think about everything from operations to product design to marketing and customer engagement.
Is it possible that some other industry does it a lot better? And yes, I’m talking to you – Dish, Comcast, Cox. I get it. I’ve used your remotes. I get that you have complex businesses. And yes, I’m also talking to most of the financial services firms and airlines too.
Take a page out of WordPress, Google (for work), and GoDaddy’s playbooks. Their support teams are amazing. They’re quick, they’re friendly, and they stick with you until you’re done instead of asking you to call back after you’ve tried a 39 step process.
The next time you hire someone to lead your team to success, be sure to ask yourself if someone who has all the industry experience in the world is the one who will get you there.