A CV is often the first introduction to the leadership quality of a man or woman and their reputation, career history, qualifications, and achievements. Sometimes through networking, a conference, or a recruiter introduction, an alternative introduction is provided. When companies are looking to add talent to their ranks, provide a framework for development, or fill succession plans, what are the 6 essential attributes to look for? Note – these may not be captured by an electronic screening tool, a 9-box grid, or an associate tasked with providing a shortlist!
1. Track-record of success
This may not necessarily be equivalent to long duration in corporate roles! Measured successes, tangible results, and notable transformational achievements, are all critical to knowing whether the individual can deliver. A CV that paints a picture of achievement over a 10-year career in the same company, may not be as impressive as one that shows significant achievements in 4 companies over the same time-period. A lot depends on what the company is looking for – most don’t necessarily want a slow burner, but neither do they want a firecracker.
A leader who has been with the same organization for 20-30 years may demonstrate commitment, application, and an ability to assimilate. But this may also demonstrate a degree of comfort, homogeneity, and myopia. The company may value stability and long-term application, but this may not provide differentiation in change, pace, and agility? This last attribute is often argued as one of the most sought after in leaders, and it is frequently learned through experiences that expand, challenge, and discomfort them. These can be found in multiple CV references, either in the same company or in many.
Companies undoubtedly benefit from diverse leadership – it brings a broad range of perspectives, applications, and experiences. It is also vital that leaders develop diversity within themselves – working in different industries, geographies, and possibly careers. Continual learning is a mark of an exceptional leader, and a CV that demonstrates this will bring the benefits of diversity to the role.
Any good leader needs to know what he or she is good at. And a CV should demonstrate a theme throughout of how the leader’s qualifications, experience, and ambitions, have brought value to companies and individuals. A leader should be able to articulate very clearly what core skills they excel in, and how these have been developed throughout their career.
A leader’s CV should show an outstanding list of qualifications, connections, and accolades. Some of the latter might be contained in references or letters of recommendation, but they should be forthcoming regardless. Credible companies worked for with significant roles and responsibilities held, are baseline requirements for a leader’s CV.
6. A story
Reading a CV should create some intrigue and fascination as well as being statistically impressive. It’s always more beneficial to have interesting leaders with stories to tell, than it is to have a dry personality who has just delivered objectives asked of them. Leaders lead people, and people respond positively to a leader with stories.
Focal Leadership (www.focalleadership.com) has helped clients to appoint, develop, and promote leaders within the context of an overall leadership development architecture which is informed by the 6 elements above.