What Makes A Good Leader?

December 6, 2022

When recruiting a new leader or senior member of the team for your SME, you will no doubt be thinking of the experience you need them to have and the personality you would like them to have too. Here Peter Neal, founder of The Experience Bank and an expert in senior and board level recruitment, tells us what he looks for, and in his opinion, what makes a good leader within his client’s companies.

“Having worked in recruitment for many years, and with The Experience Bank network being well established with a deep and broad talent pool of directors and NEDs at my disposal ahead of requests to fill posts, I often find myself with the luxury of being able to apply really good strategic thinking to solving recruitment challenges.

“A good recruiter gets under the skin of the organisation and of their future needs, not just the needs of here and now. It should be about building a relationship, not just filling a vacancy. I believe you should impress your client so much with your ability to find exactly the right person, so time after time they return to you with their recruitment needs.

“As I specialise in SME leadership and board recruitment, as well as charitable organisations, it is hugely important that I take more than experience and face value qualities into account. In a SME environment there needs to be chemistry between the team, and a shared goal or vision, so who you are is as important as what you know. I will spend time working that out and looking for pieces of the jigsaw that will fit well.

“Once I have a good feeling for the organisation, the team and the future aspirations, I start to look for candidates at that point. Never before.

“In my opinion there are five immediate qualities needed to be a leader in an executive or non-executive role for an SME or a charity.

“Firstly, decisiveness and taking responsibility. The ability to make decisions and own the consequences of those decisions is so important for leaders in the SME arena. I look for people who take relevant factors into account, are able to ask the right, insightful questions in their quest for a decision and who will stand by and qualify their decision making.

“Next in my order of qualities is communication. Warm and empathetic, but firm and clear is a wonderful quality to have for a smaller business. They need to be able to communicate in every style well, and have the ability to enthuse others with their own style.

“Resilience is a huge element of a successful SME leader. In my mind, if a leader has been able to demonstrate a huge challenge that didn’t go the way they wanted and expected but they adapted quickly and turned it around, then they have a real strength for the SME sector.

“An absolute necessity for me is that they are a person that is not only trustworthy, but that they also trust others. Openness, honesty, frankness and humility are wonderful qualities in any successful leader.

“And this ties in with my fifth and final quality, which I feel is one the most important. A desire and ability to empower others is the ultimate tick box. It is important that a true leader acknowledges that not only it is impossible for them to the expert in all areas, but that others will know more and do things better. Good leadership is recognising that, nurturing it and bringing the best of your team out to benefit the whole company.

“Anyone can make claims on a CV or LinkedIn profile, which is why I take time to get to know all of my candidates well. Through putting in the right leg work, and trusting my instincts are well honed, the feedback from my clients should always be positive.”

Experience Bank Group incorporates The Experience Bank philanthropic, social enterprise company along with a commercial venture providing three symbiotic services – EB Board Level Recruitment, EB High Performing Boards and EB Continuous Personal Development.

With this combination of specialist expertise, the Experience Bank Group is uniquely positioned to help organisations ensure they have not only the right skills in the leadership team and boardroom but also optimum board performance with higher value creation.

5% of all revenue from Experience Bank Group is gifted to The Experience Bank social enterprise to enable more start-ups, early-stage businesses, charities and social enterprises access to high quality, advisory and non-executive talent.

If you are keen to know more then visit www.theexperiencebank.co.uk or call Peter on 07843 329393.

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