What Boards Want in Their Next CEO

What Boards Want in Their Next CEO

By Pamela Kaul

At ASI, we are always looking for new and improved ways to serve our clients, and this often involves working to preemptively identify what typical boards of directors are looking for in their next CEO or executive leader. In a recent presentation at ASAE’s conference. ASI’s president Pamela Kaul, presented with Eileen Johnson (Partner at Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston LLP) and Michael Butera (ED/CEO for the National Association for Music Education (MAfME)) on what boards should be looking for and how search consultants may be able to better guide Boards in their selection process.

In recent years, there have been changes in what the board of directors expects from its CEO. CEOs’ roles have become a cross between focusing primarily on operations and “keeping the trains running on time” and helping the board to be a better board. In the latter category, CEOs tend to be outward focused on the mission and implementing the strategic plan. CEOs are also expected to serve as spokespeople with a focus on strategic messaging and presenting a disciplined message.

These recent shifts and changes in the requirements of boards has made the search process for new executives a lot more interesting. As Executive Search Consultants, we must give more attention than ever to the organization’s culture and the desires of the board. Therefore, we are also required to listen and interpret the board when they say they want a leader and a strategic thinker. Based on the changing CEO role, the definitions behind these terms as well as others like tech savvy and spokesperson are not as clear as they used to be. It is our job and our p assion to delve into the culture of the association and the board and help find the candidate that best matches the board’s requirements.

The CEO role is one that is continually changing and evolving, and this means that it is now more crucial than ever to listen to what the board says that it wants and evaluate what you hear the board say it wants. Whether boards start out with a clear “yes” or a “no” on whether they know what they are looking for or not. It is important that we, as Executive Search Consultants guide them effectively regardless of their starting position. The desires and needs of boards continue to change, and it is the responsibility and privilege of firms like ours to continue to evaluate and serve the boards and provide them with the best candidates possible.