How to Select the Executive Search Committee Chair - dummies

How to Select the Executive Search Committee Chair

By David E. Perry, Mark J. Haluska

During the first meeting of the executive search committee, you should appoint a chair. Who should you choose? To answer that, it helps to understand what the chair does. Here are a few of the chair’s duties:

  • Building an emotional connection with the right candidate (this is crucial)
  • Working with the external recruiter to create and manage the timeline
  • Serving as the voice for the search committee
  • Driving the search process with the internal or external recruiter
  • Managing the flow of information between the search committee and the board
  • Helping the external recruiter gather data about recommended candidates from all board members and “friends” of the company
  • Evaluating and managing any internal candidates with the external recruiter
  • Checking references
  • Ensuring due diligence
  • Driving the creation, development, and presentation of the offer
  • Negotiating the offer
  • Playing “good cop” if the external recruiter needs to step aside during the negotiation phase
  • Closing the deal

The search chair is often in the best position to convince the candidate there is a fit; articulate why her background, skills, opportunities, and challenges align; and explain how there is wealth to be made. This last point is critical, especially for funded ventures. Cap structures are often complex, and it’s hard for newcomers to anticipate how much additional funding will be required and in how many tranches. The search chair can tell this story.

But that’s not all. The search chair must also lead open discussions, promote honest communication, and gain consensus (remembering, of course, that you can’t please everyone all the time). In doing so, the chair must ensure that everyone on the committee is heard, without allowing dissenters or detractors hijack the group. Above all, the chair must be extremely proactive and accessible throughout the entire search process.

The good news? While evaluating committee members to determine who would make the best chair, it will quickly become apparent who has the needed experience, as well as the time and interest to invest in the project.

Select an outside board member to serve as the chair — someone who can remain detached from the internal politics of the organization.