Leadership today has changed dramatically since decades past. With a global workforce, shifting hierarchies, and remote teams, exceptional leadership is needed today more than ever. In the recruiting space, the path to a managing partnership or search firm owner is oftentimes a nonlinear one. Many climb the company ladder in a series of zigs and zags, rather than a clear ascent to the top.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders are made, they are not born.” In the MRINetwork, we see this truth play out each day. At every level of talent organizations, current and aspiring leaders are putting in the hard work and dedication to level up and mentor the next generation of talent.
What does it take to be a great leader, and how can those interested in running their own firms realize their dreams? We asked three search firm executives and MRINetwork members for their insights and advice.
What Makes a Great Search Firm Executive Leader?
Casey Reid, President of Reid & Associates, grew up in an era of hard management, where tough managers ruled through sheer will and intimidation. Thankfully, he says, those days are gone. “Leadership comes down to trust, vision, and inspiration,” he says. “It’s about creating a supportive, collaborative environment, and giving your team members the tools and resources they need to succeed.”
Carlos Perez, Managing Partner of CP & Krell Group, shares Reid’s views. After nearly 25 years in corporate leadership roles, Perez believes aspiring leaders need to be self-motivated, driven, humble, and good at negotiation. “It’s about being the best that you can be, providing outstanding service, and positioning yourself as a unique proposition in the market.”
Blake Chastain, General Manager and Owner of Management Recruiters of Zionsville, says the best pillars for success as a leader are being available and accessible. He believes that aspiring leaders should have an entrepreneurial spirit, be comfortable with risk, and care about their team’s success.
It also takes a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Chastain says. “You have to sign every check, and take everything one step at a time, especially when hiring. Understand that you need to absorb the risk. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.”
How to Level Up as a Talent Access Firm Leader
For managers and recruiters looking to run their own search firms, Reid offers these three pieces of advice:
- Never stop learning. There are many smart people in this business. Try to learn something from everyone.
- Know yourself, your goals, and your why. Find yourself, and stay true. One sure way to fail in this business is to constantly be reinventing yourself.
- Have a support network. Leadership is incredibly lonely, wherever you are. Find others who share your same challenges, and look to them for advice and support.
Perez notes that leadership takes both hard and soft skills. “To be successful as a search firm leader, you have to genuinely care about your candidates and your clients. Understand their needs, and know how to fulfill those needs. Develop a deep knowledge of the industries where your clients and candidates work, and know the key players in the industry. Keep up with market trends, and help those you work with to navigate market challenges.”
Get the Leadership Training & Support You Need
Perez encourages aspiring leaders to look for mentors within their own firm. Learning from those who successfully navigate challenges provides valuable perspective and real-world training.
Within the MRINetwork, aspiring search firm leaders can take advantage of business training on demand. Annette Wehrli, MRINetwork’s Senior Director of Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership, recommends the following sessions:
- Leadership Essentials
- Critical Thinking Bootcamp
- Situational Leadership
- Leadership Succession – Practical Considerations & Best Practices
Log in to access search firm leadership training as an MRINetwork member.
MRINetwork also offers NextGen, an 18-month training program that brings aspiring leaders together with current managing partners and owners. NextGen’s curriculum covers leadership, operations, culture, critical thinking, risk-taking, decision-making, and much more, with an emphasis on business best practices and real-world application.
Reid points to MRINetwork’s NextGen program as an impactful step in his career. After attending hundreds of sales, management, finance, and business courses, Reid ranks NextGen’s Decision-Making Program among the top ten.
With NextGen, Reid was able to learn alongside account executives who shared his journey. With access to industry experts and managing partners, Reid also gained insight to navigate potential landmines, and reassurance that he was on the right path.
Making the Leap to Managing Partner or Search Firm Owner
Eager to hone your leadership skills, and fast-track your journey to exceptional leadership? Take advantage of MRINetwork’s on-demand business leadership training, and learn more about our NextGen program.