The Elite 8 Characteristics of Successful Leadership

April 14, 2016 John O'Loughlin

Working with clients to develop candidate specifications for over 10 years has resulted in McAleer Gray documenting the key Leadership Traits that drive success. When MG is engaged to conduct a critical and confidential search where an incumbent is being replaced, it is almost always the result of the incumbent’s sub-standard performance in the Leadership dimension of the role and not due to a lack of subject matter expertise in their respective field. The following competencies are a constant in what the new leader must bring to the organization and apply to just about every organization regardless of its size, complexity, or stage of evolution:

  1. ABILITY TO FORGE STRONG PARTNERSHIPS   – The talent to partner with the boss, peers, staff, and key constituencies is a critical talent and the demand is continuing to increase. The consultative approach that provides value-add and tangible contributions at both the strategic and tactical levels is a pre-requisite in the evolving organizations. Supporting the core business and key functions in the successful development and completion of their short term and long-term business goals is the moving forward model – the silo model is a dying breed.


  1. OPERATIONS AND FINANCE WORKING KNOWLEDGE   -  Regardless of  what area of the organization that an executive resides in and their respective field of subject matter expertise, they must be knowledgeable and very conversant in the company’s P&L and balance sheet . In addition, they must immerse themselves in the core operations of the business so that they are intimately familiar with key processes, leverage points, and the general market and customer base. The successful leader is able to capsulize and quantify how the critical parts of the business align and establish key metrics for their function that drive the business forward.


  1. ENTREPRENEURSHIP   -  This trait is tricky in that it has more versions of definition that any of the others. Our context is thriving and succeeding in a lean and leveraged environment. This requires a sense of urgency, maximizing limited resources, and thoughtful but reasonable rapid decisiveness. These executives lead by example with a tireless and hands on approach. There is a passion to their pursuit of nurturing a fledgling business to the next level(s).


  1. ABILITY TO SCALE   – Whatever the current size of the business is, successfully responding to the complexities of rapid growth requires a special dimension of capabilities. It is a balancing  act to identify and  successfully execute what elements of the  infrastructure can handle the growth as is, which elements require improving, and which ones need to be completely redeveloped or re-engineered – all of this while maintaining high quality and customer satisfaction. These leaders are far greater demand than those that are in more of a routine or maintenance mode.


  1. ACCOMPLISHED PROCESS AND QUALITY ACUMEN   -  Continuous improvement and high quality standards and how they can drive a business’ growth and profitability are mandatory. Creating a process for the initial time, enhancing an existing process, or completely developing a replacement process are capabilities that are usually part of the executive’s job accountabilities and/or annual initiatives/projects.


  1. PRO-ACTIVE   – Anticipating and identifying opportunities and problems either before they occur or immediately when they do; fully scoping them and putting a detailed operating plan together to exploit and leverage the opportunity and , for the problem, also a detailed plan to minimize and mitigate it.


  1. CRITICAL THINKER   -  Raw IQ is not nearly enough. In addition to smarts, the successful executive must exhibit the right combination of EQ & IQ, logical sequencing, innate problem solving ability and good ole common sense. Finally, the perfect blend of strategy and operations. They must demonstrate being an accomplished pilot at all altitude levels.


  1. MOTIVATOR    – Leads by example by taking the initiative, demonstrates being a self-starter, capable of inspiring others. These positive leaders tend to have patterns of multiple successes and accomplishment across various situations and challenges through the course of their careers.

The Battle for Top Talent – And How to WIN!

July 21, 2014 Brad Gray

SUCCESS IS HARD  In today’s competitive market, firms must have several key elements in place to succeed. While having good products and services are important, the most fundamental requirement is having great leadership and top talent heading all efforts in your organization.

TOP TALENT ISN’T EASY TO COME BY  How do you access and compel the “best of the best” to join your team? As a former CEO and head of operations, I’ve personally faced that challenge – and I used all forms of recruitment available, including top firms like Korn/Ferry (where I would eventually become a partner). Through all those experiences and the ones I’ve learned in the last 13+ years in the recruiting business, a few key elements stand out:

  • Top Talent is NOT looking for new opportunities
  • The most sought-after people don’t post their resumes on job boards or deploy their information on social media to shop positions or themselves – they simply don’t show up on your “talent radar”
  • Top Talent doesn’t speak with “contingency” recruiters – they value their jobs, and they will not risk the possibility of their employer learning that they aren’t “loyal”
  • It can be unseemly if an organization’s internal team recruits directly from their competitors, industry partners or vendors, thus earning the reputation as “poachers”

We employ a unique approach that we’ve honed over many years in the business – and a pedigree from the world’s largest executive search firm. Essentially, we partner with our clients as follows:

  • Only senior partners lead engagements and the execution of projects for our clients at McAleer Gray.  Our team includes professionals with former roles as CEO, CHRO, CFO as an example – we’re not “lifers” in the search business, but veteran operational leaders from corporate America AND entrepreneurial ventures. Our team understands your challenges, and how to find, screen, and assess top talent. Most search firms hand-off to junior associates the critical heavy-lifting of attracting top candidates; they settle for the easy candidates
  • We provide an unparalleled consultation at the outset of every project to ensure that the attributes and cultural fit required by our clients are demonstrated by all candidates – and that we understand where the best people might be employed
  • We perform exhaustive research at the outset of every engagement – we do not recycle the same tired resumes of people looking for work. We perform targeted “head-hunting” to identify, access, and compel the best of the best to engage with us on behalf of our client
  • Our senior people personally reach out to candidates, sources of candidates, and senior leaders on all projects – providing uniquely successful access and ability to compel the hard-to-reach candidates

In most cases, we provide a slate of on-target candidates within 2-3 weeks. A recent client stated the following when his firm was presented with their initial slate of candidates: “I hoped we’d see at least one qualified person, and you’ve brought us NINE!” As our clients will attest, our customers simply enjoy a better level of delivery and overall experience working with us. THE ULTIMATE IRONY – OUR VALUE PROPOSITION IS THE BEST AVAILABLE. In most cases, our fees are either lower or about the same as other firms in the space – firms that don’t deliver the level of value we provide. Even better, we are able to create a winning partnership that requires us to perform to our clients’ satisfaction.

THE BATTLE HAS BEGUN – Let’s get together to discuss your strategy to succeed in attracting Top Talent…our place, or yours?

McAleer Gray announces the placement of new CEO for the Space Foundation

McAleer Gray’s Miami operation proud to place CEO of YWCA of Miami/Dade

TwentyEighty announces the placement of new CTO by McAleer Gray

Colorado Visiting Nurse Association announces McAleer Gray as partner in new CEO search

McAleer Gray and Professional Pediatric Home Care announce the placement of Mark Bruning as President/CEO