Do you really need that new CEO now? 

Investors should think twice before they fill up an empty chair with a new person. Definitely when it is the chair of the CEO. Often a temporary leader is a better choice, in order to seize the opportunity to first optimise the company and its processes. 

That is the advice of Thorbjørn ’Toby’ Sirén, a headhunter from the Nordics and Baltics. Toby mainly searches leaders for privately-owned mid-sized companies. In his early carreer, he was in various leadership roles in which he developed a clear vision about what recruitment is — and what it is not. “Recruitment should not be about filling an empty chair,” knows Toby. “An empty chair should be a great opportunity to rethink the business processes, and check whether you really need that chair in the first place”.

Don’t look for the best CEO, look for the most optimal leader

“When companies are looking for a new CEO, they often want the best person, with the best diploma, with the best CV, with the best experience, and the best network in the sector”, knows Toby. “This always leads to a very expensive recruitment of a person that is often not going to be the best performer.” From the perspective of the investor, the CEO is their single point of contact with the company. However, the CEO is not going to be the person who speaks to clients and suppliers. “A new CEO should motivate the team to go the extra mile for clients. The collaborators should feel respected for their knowledge. Moreover, a new CEO should bring a fresh breeze into the business, which is much more easy for an outsider.”    

Temporary leaders fit best with temporary situations

This is even more important at crucial pivotal moments in a business. “When the chair of the CEO is empty, it is a great time to rethink the business first, and seize the moment to implement the necessary fundamental changes,” says Toby Sirén. “The implementation of fundamental changes can take a few years, so why not have a temporary leader with the skills of change management for a few years, and use that time to set up the right leadership team for the long term?” Temporary leaders fit best with change, because they are the embodiment of change. “They will have no issue with stepping back after a few years, when they feel their change job has resulted in a new stable environment. At that moment, it is time to find a new CEO who can continue and mature the stable processes. And, maybe, by then, the new leadership team is already in place, without having to hire a new CEO.”  

Thorbjørn ’Toby’ Sirén (FI)

Thorbjørn ’Toby’ Sirén is a headhunter from Finland. Before he became a recruiter of team members and leaders, he had various leadership roles in the maritime world, in the entertainment sector, and in the Finnish media. Those leadership roles learned him what recruitment really means to a company. As a senior professional he is also a mentor at the Finnish-Swedish chamber of commerce, and he is very well networked within the authorities in Finland and within the Nordics and Baltics business communities.  …