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Five Traits to Look for In a Strong Financial Executive

While hiring candidates for entry and mid-level positions, managers seek traits that forecast future behaviors and suggest long term career and cultural alignment. For example, a given 22-year-old candidate may not have a track record of leadership or financial sales victories, but if she shows a willingness to learn, high levels of social adaptability, and a passion for the field, you can safely assume that if you invest in her now, your investments will pay off in the future.

At the executive level, the reverse tends to be true. Instead of banking on future growth, it’s better to find a candidate who can step immediately up to the plate and serve as an asset beginning on day one. To identify this candidate, you’ll need to look for a few important signs, include these.

A Track Record of Immediate Contributions

Look for candidates who don’t require years of lead time before they understand a given cultural fabric or complex business model. If your candidate’s resume shows a history of long tenures with minimal concrete contributions, be skeptical. But if she tends to step into the workplace, earn respect, drive positive change, and move on after leaving the place better than she found it, that’s a great sign.

Flexible Leadership Skills

“Leadership skills” come in many different forms, and the qualities that make a strong leader are very different in a kindergarten classroom, a slaughterhouse floor, a creative pitch session, and a presidential cabinet meeting. Maybe you need a leader who understands complex derivative products and can explain them clearly to her direct reports. Or maybe you need a motivational pro who can bring new energy to your sales force. But if you’re like most executive hiring managers, you need someone who can take control of her branch of the organization and balance growth against risk management.

Diplomacy and Situational Awareness

Will your candidate quickly understand and adapt to your culture and your existing client relationships? Or will he move in and try to force his agenda on the entire team before he understands his new ecosystem?

The Ability to Cultivate Growing Teams

Can your candidate identify and bring out the best in each member of your team? Does she have what it takes to balance one person’s weak areas with another employee’s strengths? Choose a candidate who recognizes which employees should be assigned to which tasks, and how to deploy a team in a way that brings maximum benefit to the organization.

Productivity Matters

How much does your candidate actually accomplish in a given hour of the day? Does he cover maximum ground in a tight, organized fashion, or is he a scattered mess? If you’re focused on controlled growth, don’t hire an absent minded professor. Choose an executive who can successfully complete each initiative that arises during her tenure.

For more on how to attract, identify, and hire the kinds of executive-level candidates that can help your firm thrive and grow, reach out to the financial staffing experts at Cordia.