Most Desired Trait by Companies Seeking Senior Executives

I don’t often publish press releases, but this one from executive search firm IIC caught my attention and I thought it was worth sharing. It supports what I’ve been saying for years: It’s the Soft Stuff That’s Really the Hard Stuff and Why Do Businesses and Leaders Fail?

Most Desired Trait by Companies Seeking Senior Executives is
                Ability to Motivate and Lead Others

           By 3:1 Margin, Motivational Skills Trump Performance

 “Price of Entry to Corner Office is Competence, But Measure of Success
                is Inspiring Others,” Says IIC Partners

NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Executive leaders, take
note. The number one skill that companies and Boards of Directors seek
in senior executives is the ability to motivate and lead others,
according to a survey of 1,270 business leaders from around the world
by IIC Partners, one of the top 10 executive search organizations

 By a margin of 3:1, 68 percent of top leaders said they preferred a
senior executive who could motivate and inspire others more than they
desired an executive who consistently performed well (mentioned by 26

“The price of entry to the corner office remains competency,” said Paul
Dinte, chairman of IIC Partners. “But once there, a leader’s success is
more about inspiring and motivating others to perform, rather than what
he or she does individually.

“The emerging snapshot of today’s most valued senior executive is not
just that of a talented practitioner. Rather, this sought-after
executive is very ‘other-directed’ and excels at harnessing the power
of others through leadership and inspiration.”

After motivational ability, the senior executive traits most valued by
organizations were: strong ability to manage change (51 percent);
ability to identify and develop talent (46 percent); innovative
thinking (30 percent); and consistent high performance (26 percent).

The survey also uncovered additional characteristics of senior
executives and senior executive teams around the globe.

Organizations are increasingly seeking to build senior executive teams
that include external candidates rather than only internally groomed
talent. The average Senior Executive Team is made up of:

  —  45 percent internal candidates
  —  38 percent external candidates
  —  17 percent from another division within the same parent company
 “The trend of hiring from the outside has been going on for a while,”
said Dinte. “Global trends in talent management indicate that companies
are investing more in grooming internal leaders, and they are doing a
better job of onboarding the executives they hire from the outside.”

Companies that were more likely to rely heavily on internal, rather
than external, talent were those with fewer than 500 employees, energy
and utility companies, and financial services firms.

Organizations around the world have different expectations of how long
a senior executive will remain with an organization, but the average is
seven years. In the Americas, the expectation was slightly longer (7.9
years), while in Asia-Pacific, it was shorter (5.9 years).

Length of service also differed by industry. Professional services tend
to retain senior executives the longest (8.1 years), while the
pharmaceutical (5.7 years) and consumer products (6.1 years) industries
hold them for shorter periods of time.

“Corporate expectations for length of service may have to be managed
when Gen-X employees reach the C-suite, given how much more frequently
they tend to change jobs,” noted Dinte.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that gender composition of
their senior executive team was either “important” or “very important.”

Those based in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) rated gender
composition more important (62 percent) than the overall global
response. Respondents from Asia-Pacific were below the average, with
only 48 percent saying gender composition was important to their

About the Survey:
A total of 1,270 senior-level executives completed an online survey
during a six-week period in late 2013.

  —  Sixty-two percent of respondents were at the C-suite or Managing
      Director level.
  —  520 were from the Americas, 383 were from EMEA and 347 were from
  —  Respondents came from 18 different industries.
  —  Thirty-eight percent were from publicly held organizations, 43 percent
      were from privately-held firms, eight percent were family-owned, five
      percent were not-for-profit, and three percent were from other types of
  —  The survey was administered by Amarach Research of Dublin, Ireland.

About IIC Partners IIC Partners ( is one of the top 10 executive
search organizations in the world. The network of “Independent
International Consultants” is made up of 40 independently owned and
managed executive search firms representing 48 offices in 34 countries,
all considered to be leaders in the geographic and industry markets
they serve.
CONTACT: Kathleen McFadden