The importance of finding values-aligned individuals in executive search

Executive search firms play a pivotal role in helping organisations identify and recruit top-tier talent. This is especially true for companies operating in specialised fields such as engineering and manufacturing, where leadership and expertise are essential. While technical skills and experience remain critical factors, there’s a growing recognition of the importance of values-aligned individuals in executive search.

It’s the values that unite leadership and enable the organisation to push towards goal achievement. Without aligned values, executive teams are unbalanced and uncoordinated, at risk of in-fighting and inefficiency. In our business, we’ve seen all-too-often what happens when values are ignored during the hiring process, especially at the senior and executive level. Indeed, we’re often called in to sort out the resulting chaos!

As such, in this article, we delve into why finding values-aligned individuals is of paramount importance in executive recruitment, how executive search firms identify these candidates, and why it ultimately leads to organisational success.

Why do values matter so much in executive search?

In the past, executive search primarily focused on identifying candidates based on their qualifications, skills, and experience. It was a somewhat formulaic approach to leadership recruitment, and, to a degree, it worked.

It’s also certainly true that these factors remain essential, but the modern business landscape has evolved to place a more significant emphasis on organisational culture and values. Indeed, it’s often the visibility and consistency in these values that drives the brand and success.

Let’s explain a bit more about the different ways in which value alignment is crucial:

  • Cultural fit: Values-aligned individuals are more likely to fit seamlessly into the existing company culture. This fosters a harmonious working environment and reduces the risk of potential conflicts. It’s possible to find value-aligned executives without sacrificing diversity.
  • Long-term commitment: Candidates who share an organisation’s values are more likely to stay with the company for the long term. This reduces turnover and the associated costs of hiring and training new executives. They inevitably feel greater personal investment in the organisation because they care about its success and outcomes.
  • Enhanced collaboration: Values alignment encourages collaboration and teamwork, essential for success in industries such as engineering and manufacturing where cross-functional coordination is key. Executives are more able to build productive relationships with each other when their values align.
  • Ethical leadership: Executives with aligned values are more likely to lead with integrity and make decisions that benefit both the organisation and its stakeholders. In the modern digital world, where you reputation is more important than ever, it’s vital to choose executives who reflect the ethical values of the business.

How do we identify values-aligned candidates?

Finding values-aligned individuals requires a multifaceted approach in the executive search process. Yes, we still ascertain skills, knowledge, expertise and experience, but we go a step further. We employ a number of different approaches at First Executive Recruitment to identify the values in candidates and understand how these align with your organisation.

  • Client consultation: I personally carry out in-depth discussions with clients to understand their company culture, values, and specific needs. I get to know your unique organisation. This forms the foundation for identifying candidates who will thrive within the organisation.
  • Values assessment: We employ assessments and behavioural interviews to evaluate a candidate’s values, ethics, and alignment with the client’s culture. We look for evidence of their values in action.
  • Reference checks: Thorough reference checks provide insights into a candidate’s past behaviour and how they have demonstrated values alignment in previous roles.
  • Candidate sourcing: A skill of the best executive search firms is how they can leverage industry networks to identify potential candidates who have demonstrated values alignment in their career histories. We have unrivalled insider knowledge.
  • Competency-based interviews: Structured interviews that assess a candidate’s behavioural competencies and values alignment with the client’s organisation.
  • Scenario-based testing: Presenting candidates with real-world scenarios within their application and interview process to gauge their decision-making processes and values-driven leadership.

Balancing skills and values

While values alignment is essential, it’s just one part of the jigsaw puzzle that executive search firms should be looking at. It’s essential that we still look at things like skills and experience. It’s about a careful balance. Candidates must possess everything required for the success of the executive role and the wider success of the executive team.

The ideal executive search process combines the assessment of a candidate’s values with their:

  • Skills: Evaluating technical skills and industry-specific knowledge that directly contribute to the candidate’s ability to excel in their role.
  • Experience: Reviewing the candidate’s past achievements, leadership roles, and career progression to ensure they bring valuable experience to the position.
  • Leadership qualities: Assessing the candidate’s ability to lead and inspire teams, make strategic decisions, and drive the organisation towards its goals.
  • Innovation: Identifying candidates who can contribute fresh ideas and innovative solutions to help the organisation stay competitive.
  • Cultural adaptability: Ensuring that candidates can adapt to (and thrive within) the client’s organisational culture while also bringing their unique perspectives and common values to the table.

As time moves forwards, finding values-aligned individuals is more critical than ever. As the business landscape continues to evolve, organisations in engineering, manufacturing, and other sectors require leaders who not only possess the necessary skills and experience but also align with their core values and culture.

It’s not just about finding the right person for the job; it’s about finding the right person who embodies the values that drive success in how businesses work today.

By prioritising values alignment, organisations can navigate the complexities of the business landscape with leaders who are not only technically proficient but also aligned with the principles that drive and define their success.

At First Executive Recruitment, we recognise the significant importance of value-alignment in executive search. Figuring out an individual’s values, and aligning these with your organisation, are a vital part of our process for finding  not only the best talent, but also individuals who will contribute to a positive working environment, foster long-term growth, and lead with integrity.

As always, we are here to help you find the right people for your organisation based on the unique dynamics of your business. Get in touch on 0161 359 3111.


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