Executive Search: More than a New Leader

Leadership: The Key to the Future

Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc., 132 East Putnam Avenue, Cos-Cob, Connecticut 06807, 203-661-3003

Management Consultants for the Arts sent us two publications. "Executive Search: More than a New Leader" says it is "not a 'how-to' on the executive search process as it applies to cultural organizations. It is not for cooking up criteria that will lead you to the ideal candidate. And it doesn't suggest 'Six EZ Steps' to successfully court your candidate of choice. [Its] intent...is to suggest how to create an environment which will most likely yield a successful search.... It also describes the broad ramifications a good search can have, beyond the hire itself.” Principals in the MCA group are Len Alexander, Gregory Kandel, and Linda Sweet. They argue that the search process “can help you reexamine your organization, its purpose and direction, and provide an opportunity for reaffirmation, renewal, change.” This helpful 12-page booklet could be given to the staff or board of applicant or grantee organizations who need to hire key executives. It provides an overview of the steps to a successful search (organizational self-examination, the search committee, the interview itself, assisting the new hire), and is written in plain English. The authors state that “groundwork represents about one third of the total search process, but exerts much higher leverage on the end results.”

In “Leadership: The Key to the Future,” MCA consultants and staff assert their views of “some of the characteristics of the most effective leaders we have known.” Some of the characteristics they cite will not surprise most readers (“The best leaders understand that good management is a must.”) while others seem more noteworthy (“The most effective leaders ... have a high tolerance for debate within the organization.” and “The most effective leaders do not neglect the issue of succession.”) This short booklet might be useful to an organization looking for terminology or standards by which to assess its leadership, or to an organization that is looking for a new leader. The booklet seems helpful as a conversation-starter among board members who may, in the end, have different views on what an effective leader for their own organization may be.