Leadership Hiring Techniques to Build a Stronger Management Team

Smiling businesswoman holding resume and talking to female leadership candidate during a job interview

When a friend or family member has a terrible boss, you can bet you know about it. They likely complain about their inept manager any chance they get, and they may even be job searching as a result. 

Managers can make or break their employees’ job satisfaction, which means a company’s leaders have a major impact on the organization’s culture and morale. Companies can take an intentional approach to build a stronger, more effective management team through leadership hiring. 

What is Leadership Hiring?

At its most basic definition, leadership hiring is the process of hiring leaders. That’s a bit vague, though, as any employee at any level can display leadership qualities. 

For our purposes, where we’re talking about a strategic approach to building your management team, leadership hiring refers to recruiting the people in your company who are in charge of managing others. 

Leadership hiring can include executive search, which recruits the highest ranking leaders at a company like the c-suite, but it’s primarily focused on middle-management roles. These are your company’s boots on the ground when it comes to guiding and developing other employees. They’re engaged in their teams’ day-to-day work while being mindful of larger, company-wide objectives; they make decisions that impact the work and livelihood of others, and they play a big role in shaping the culture of their teams. 

With all of this in mind, It’s easy to see why hiring the right people for these valuable management positions is so important. 

The Importance of Leadership Hiring

It’s an old saying in the recruiting world that people don’t quit companies–they quit managers. There’s truth to the adage; according to a Gallup study, one in two employees have left a job to get away from a bad boss at some point in their career. 

Great managers, on the other hand, inspire their employees to stay at companies longer. They help their reports buy into the company’s mission and find meaning in their work. This results in lower turnover and higher employee engagement, both of which benefit the company as a whole. 

Strong leaders also contribute to their companies in more direct ways. They offer creative ideas to solve problems, drive forward progress on their teams, and produce tangible results like meeting sales quotas, all of which advance the company’s business objectives. 

A high-quality leadership team is a talent acquisition tool. As we’ve touched on already, a person’s manager has a major bearing on how happy that person is at work. Happy employees tell their friends about their great job and refer other top performers in their network to apply to the company’s open positions. 

When you hire effective leaders, your reputation for being a terrific place to work spreads–a positive aspect of your employer brand that fuels your talent pipeline. 

Leadership Hiring Techniques to Build a Stronger Management Team

1. Assess your needs

One of the first tenets of talent acquisition is to hire based on your weaknesses, and leadership hiring is no different. You can’t run a company with a c-suite full of ideas people but no one to execute on those ideas. So, prioritize your hiring needs by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s existing leaders. 

One way to do this is by making a list of the gaps in your business. This might include skills that are lacking, areas of the business that are underperforming, or departments that haven’t been fully developed yet. 

For example, let’s say you recently expanded your sales territory into a new state but the entire sales team is still reporting to a single department head, whose team has now doubled in size. It might be time to add a new level of regional sales managers who can lighten the load for the VP of sales while providing oversight of their respective territories. 

Growth can also be a strong indicator for leadership hiring needs, like if you’ve surpassed a new revenue benchmark but are still relying on the financial expertise of a single accounting manager. Expanding your accounting team might serve your financial needs. 

2. Prioritize internal advancement

It’s never too early to begin identifying potential leaders and offering them opportunities for professional development. Internal advancement not only contributes to a strong leadership team, but builds employee engagement and aids in retention.

When you make it known that you’re invested in an employee’s continued growth within the organization, they’ll be more likely to remain loyal to the company and less likely to jump ship for a shiny new opportunity somewhere else. Plus, a strong culture of internal advancement is an attractive selling point when recruiting new employees. 

Related: How to Conduct an Internal Interview

3. Build a strong employer brand

Your leadership hiring efforts should take place continuously, not just when you need to fill an open role. This means building a positive reputation among top talent in your field on an ongoing basis. 

Define goals for your leadership acquisition strategy and assign ownership of them. Track performance metrics and analyze them on a regular basis. Develop a content strategy geared specifically toward leadership hiring. Identify employee advocates and give them opportunities to take an active role in your brand-building efforts. 

Learn more about building an employer brand that attracts top talent here.

4. Set an appropriate budget

You get what you pay for, especially when it comes to hiring. When you hire leaders, you’re hiring more than just a single person; you’re signing on for the contributions (or lack thereof) they’re going to make to the company and the impact they’ll have on all the people who work for them. The ripple effects of a leadership hire extend far beyond their individual role. 

To attract and retain great leaders, offering adequate compensation is a must. Assess and fine-tune your salary scale regularly. When analyzing what you can afford to pay a strong candidate, perhaps a better question is what it might cost your business to have a subpar manager in the position. 

5. Do your due diligence

Employee turnover is never a good thing, but when it’s a problem among leadership, it can quickly tank a team’s morale. So, it’s even more important to hire the right person for a leadership role the first time around. 

Get referrals whenever possible and check references meticulously. Look beyond the resume to the person behind the piece of paper to learn what drives them. Consider how they got their start and how their unique career path might shape their preparedness for a spot on your team. 

While a paycheck is important, the best leaders are motivated by more than money. Leadership hiring calls for digging deeper to identify those core motivators and see if they’re aligned with your mission. 

6. Work with an executive search team

An executive search firm specializes in hiring for leadership roles. They can give you access to an expansive talent pool, which can be especially helpful for smaller companies with a less established reputation. 

An executive recruiter can bring industry-specific expertise to your search, aiding in the screening and interview process and streamlining negotiations during the offer phase. When finding the perfect candidate is paramount, as it is for leadership roles, working with a qualified recruiter can give you the peace of mind that you’re hiring the right person for the job. 

Prioritizing leadership hiring–and having a dedicated strategy to address it–not only makes good business sense. It’s one of the best things you can do to ensure strong morale and retention among workers at all levels of the organization. 

Related: Reasons to Hire an Executive Recruiter

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn