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I have always believed that a good leader is a work of art, and that a bad leader is a tragedy — for the organization and for the people with whom they interact. 

There are far too many leaders who cannot see beyond their own office. They do not engage employees in a consistent and meaningful way.  They offer any number of excuses for their lack of visibility and engagement, including that they do not feel "comfortable" communicating in that setting.

How senior executives interract with their teams — their visibility and their ability to communicate the mission, vision and values of the organization in every-day conversation — is an essential element in employee engagement.

At JohnGSelf Associates, we have an entire 45-minute block of questions in our comprehensive 3.5 hour face-to-face screening interview that zeroes in on this critical leadership issue. We believe that this competency is absolutely critical to the success of any organization.

When I tell people that our firm offers a three-year placement guarantee, my capable competitors ask how we can possibly make such an offer. They feel it is too risky. Actually, if you dig deep enough in the face-to-face candidate interview, there is virtually no risk. But it takes time and a great deal of research into relevant issues. 

In 15 years, we have had only a small handful of candidates who did not work out in our C-suite and executive practice. Luck? Perhaps. Too risky? No. From my point of view, offering your clients a long placement guarantee is about taking ownership of what we do, recognizing the impact we can have on an organization and its employees if we do not get it right.  Relying on video conference interviews to select which candidates to recommend to the client may save on the expense budget and make it easier for the recruiter, but it diminshes the quality of the screening and substantially elevates the risk of a miss-hire.  I do not know one search firm that will offer their clients an extended placement guarantee when they cut corners.

I share this to encourage my colleagues in the search industry to look at what they are doing with their candidate screening process and seek meaningful ways to offer clients greater value. 

As hospitals and physician practices experience significant reductions in funding and other disruptions that will surely occur as we navigate healthcare reform, executive recruiters and other consultants who work in this sector need to step up and own the the quality of the service we offer — and the outcome.  

© 2011 John Gregory Self

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