Simon Berg leads Ceros, the interactive content marketing platform, with an innate curiosity about the world and how everything works.
Hiring C-level executives is very important, and also very difficult.
They need to be your best friends, your right-hand men and women, and your trusted advisors in their respective areas of expertise. These people serve as cornerstones of your organization, which means they can't be easily or quickly removed.
Every hire is important, but C-suites are among the most critical. Individual organizations look for slightly different qualities in their C-suite executives, but there are a number of factors to consider no matter what type of business you run.
As the CEO of Ceros, I've had my fair share of hiring C-level executives. Here are a few of the key things I look for when hiring:
Personality. Diligence. Humility. Knowledge. The ability to inspire. What do these character traits have in common? They are all traits that are consistent among great leaders. If a candidate has all of these traits, chances are they can lead in a C-level role.
Another important trait that I look for is whether someone is capable of putting the business first and their career second. Any smart individual recognizes that success comes from doing what's right for the business at all times, regardless of situation.
Likewise, your C-suite team members need to be able to challenge you and their peers while also knowing when to play ball with you. No good leader wants to be surrounded by yes-men and yes-women, because they won't help your organization grow.
But you also don't want full-blown dissenters rowing in the opposite direction of where you're trying to go. The ideal C-suite exec is someone who can discern when to pick up the oars and row and when to stop and chart a new course.
Strength During Adversity
Another key factor I look for is the ability to seek out hard work that no one else wants to deal with, and to execute it swiftly. Ben Horowitz's book, The Hard Things About Hard Things, explores this topic in detail. Doing hard things is a critical part of leadership.
A leader who won't take action because they fear failure can appear to be effectual, but in truth, they're holding back the organization. Think of it this way: Say you had a group of people stuck on the 25th floor of a burning building in a room with six doors, and every single door was red hot. Doing the hard thing would be the only way out of the situation; if you choose a door, there's a least a chance that you'll escape.
Standing still would be a guaranteed death sentence. I want leaders who would open a door, even if it put their own safety at risk. All too many times, being a great leader comes down to making a decision when there are no right decisions. As a C-level team member, this is one of the key ingredients for success.
Resilience and Tenacity
Resilience and tenacity are core life skills for anyone, but especially for C-suite execs. That's why one of our core cultural values at Ceros is to "find a way." I look for leaders who view each failure as an opportunity instead of a setback, and who keep going in spite of obstacles that emerge along the way.
On a personal note, I always spend quality time outside of the office with any potential C-suite exec to ensure that they're a good fit before making a hire. Because I'm English, this usually involves going out for drinks with them. I've found that this helps people relax, and you truly get to see who a person is when they let their guard down. At any rate, at least the arduous process of hiring will be peppered with enjoyable nights out.
When it comes to hiring C-suite executives, choose carefully. Screen diligently. Spend quality time with candidates outside of the office before you make an offer. And always follow your gut.