JB HOMER Retained Executive Search, specializing in executive search for technology and operations talent in a global market

Press Release - May 21, 2013

JUDY HOMER, PRESIDENT OF JB HOMER ASSOCIATES Great leaders are willing and able to go outside of their comfort zones in order to achieve excellence. But far too frequently, C Suite Executives can’t – or won’t – leave their comfort zones when it comes to hiring their leadership teams. In this month’s issue, Louis Gerzofsky analyzes this sensitive subject and offers a few valuable suggestions.

If you’d like to share your own insights, please contact Louis at using our Online Contact Form.

All the best,


"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"
by Louis Gerzofsky, Director of IT Search and Executive Coaching

Whenever JB Homer Associates is engaged to replace a CIO with long standing tenure, two of the first questions we typically ask our clients are, 'What went wrong?' and 'What will the new CIO need to accomplish in the first 30-60-90 days?'

Not surprisingly, we don't hear new clients complain about issues relating to application delivery, architecture or infrastructure. Nope. The common complaint is that the former (or soon to be former) executive has been too loyal to too many of his or her direct reports for far too long.

I've wondered about this for a while -- as I'm sure many of you have -- and I suspect the culprit is a double edged sword – loyalty -- loyalty to the ideas that created their success and loyalty to the people who converted those ideas into reality. In effect, many of these executives have become hostages to their past successes.

And, like most of life, there isn't a bold line in the proverbial sand or outstanding event that these executives can remember -- and learn from -- as the defining moment when 'things just started to go wrong'. It was an accretive process that slowly but surely undermined their organization's productivity and, ultimately, their careers.

I believe the remedy for this extremely common challenge lies within the CIO's toolbox. I call it, 'Agile Team Development'. To paraphrase Wikipedia, IT Executives need to learn how to apply iterative and incremental people development methodologies, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration. Sometimes the solutions involve build and buy (i.e., redeployment or new hires) and sometimes they involve replace (i.e., terminations and new hires).

  1. If life doesn't provide us with clear, well defined success metrics then we have to make them ourselves and adjust them as the goal posts move. Break the big goals into bite sized pieces, keeping them 'iterative and incremental' but constantly adjusting them as conditions change. 'The map is not the terrain.' Constant, measurable feedback helps you keep your team as well as yourself on your collective toes.

  2. People tend to surround themselves with people they like. After all, we spend umpteen hours with them every week. But far too many executives seem to have a recruitment default setting tuned to ‘Whenever possible, I’ll hire someone who used to work for me’. Well, you might feel more comfortable surrounding yourself with familiar faces but if your former employees aren’t suited for the culture and challenges of your current role, then staying within your hiring comfort zone could ultimately threaten your success.

  3. Your relationships with your business peers as well as your IT executive network are amongst your most important tools for collaboration and team building. Are you investing your time in learning how other executives lead and manage the people in their organizations? How often do you meet with your company's Human Resources partners? Have you forgotten what those letters stand for? These are the people whose careers revolve around people and team building?
Your success as an executive will be determined by the company you keep. Your leadership team is directly related to your success. Surround yourself with a team that complements your unique capabilities – as well as your weaknesses. If you’re new to an organization, hire for that culture and its issues; don’t try to seek easy shortcuts by plucking people from your past successes: they may be loyal to you but they may not be a fit for your new organization’s challenges.

Agility is a great asset whether you're an athlete a software developer or an IT executive. Agile Team Development will mean that your organization is in a constant - yet reasonably stable - state of evolution, growth and success.

This is a topic that is especially near and dear to my professional heart and I would truly appreciate your comments, criticisms and insights. Please address them via our Online Contact Form.

As always, thank you for your time and attention.

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