WEBINAR | Managing your career in the new reality: how to structure your job search in times of change and uncertainty

INAC Global Executive Search and Not Actively Looking are hosting their very first joined 2021 webinar: “Managing your career in the new reality: how to structure your job search in times of change and uncertainty”.

During this interactive webinar we will discuss some of the challenges faced by senior executives facing a career transition post-Covid and looking at some of the things that you can do to make this process more manageable.

If you are eager to learn with leading practitioners from the executive search industry what has changed and what matters in the world of senior executive recruiting and what you can do to get it right when it comes to career transition and the management of your career, don’t miss out this opportunity to join this lively discussion with Amy Speake (INAC UK) and Anna Persson (INAC SWEDEN) of INAC Global Executive Search, together with to Anthony Harling, Co-Founder of Not Actively Looking.

The webinar will take place on the 20th of May, at 1PM (Lisbon time).

Don’t miss out to participate in this FREE live webinar!

Please feel free to register HERE!

For more information and details, click here.

Ranked Global 40 by Hunt Scanlon

INAC Global Executive Search, the international organisation of which Ad Capita is the exclusive member for Portugal, has recently been distinguished by Hunt Scanlon and ranked in its Global 40 listing.

Each year, the renowned international executive search directory conducts a thorough and exhaustive research to list the best recruiting providers worldwide.

The ranking not only showcases the companies that currently dominate the recruiting business, but also the companies they believe are able to provide a unique and high-quality service when it comes to satisfying the most demanding and sensitive recruitment needs.

Ad Capita is very proud of this achievement and recognition and would like to share it also with its clients and candidates. For more information and to access the full ranking, click here.

COVID-19 Global Business Impact Outlook

The World was taken by surprise and what we once took for granted as small gestures of our daily routine has now been put to the test. 

Doubt and uncertainty overcame business communities worldwide. Employers and employees were forced to face new paradigms to which they had to answer fast and in the most efficient way possible. 

Ad Capita is in a privileged position when it comes to assess the global markets as the Portuguese exclusive partner firm of the leading network, INAC Global Executive Search. With over 200 consultants worldwide, INAC took upon itself to conduct a unique and global survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 in the decision-making process of top executives. 

The “COVID-19 Business Impact Outlook” is the direct result of the participation of 536 Top Executive Leaders from 41 countries, including Portugal.
This global survey allowed us to obtain unique and insightful facts and figures about the “new normal” and what it will look like in the aftermath of COVID-19, when it comes to running a business.

Among many other noteworthy facts, we found out that 5% of these top executive leaders are planning to increase headcount due to new opportunities as a direct result of the new business environment. Interesting enough, 56% intend to keep home office for a significant number of employees resulting in the reduction of office space. And in order to succeed in the post pandemic business world, leaders must be resilient, strategist, forward-thinker and inspirational.

Download the “COVID-19 Business Impact Outlook” to access the full report and all of its data.

Click to download the .pdf

Meet the new C-suite leader: The chief well-being officer

Companies today face an ever-changing business climate and growing competition from all over the world. With that comes increasing pressure to accommodate and counter those challenges. The lines between work and life have become blurred. Companies are only as productive as their people — and their people are coping with strenuous demands. Hence the need for a new C-suite role: the chief well-being officer.

The CWO is charged with restoring balance between professional and personal lives and employees’ needs and strengths. Ultimately, their goal is to increase employee engagement. The CWO must be designated and empowered to help with every employee’s well-being efforts on behalf of the organization. Companies typically only focus on professional training and development when financials allow for it. The CWO role requires appropriate funding and staff, and a mandate to implement a robust agenda that will drive the program and allow the CWO authority to significantly influence company culture. The CWO needs a seat at the table alongside their fellow executive leadership team, who must all embrace this role as a critical driving force for their organization’s future success.

The CWO serves as a strategist and change agent who drives cultural transformation. That transformation involves a broad, holistic approach to wellness, including mind, body and career. Deloitte & Touche recently hired CWO Jen Fisher, who launched a mental health program within the company.

Helping employees keep their households intact is also important. By providing financial planning support, you can help employees better understand their finances so they can spend less time worrying about their personal financial standing. Programs like these help drive engagement and support people in all aspects of well-being so they can be their best selves at work and at home.

People are increasingly looking for balance in their lives, which doesn’t necessarily mean working less (or less hard). They want to know that as their employer, you are just as invested in them as they are in you. Companies need to embrace the overall health of their employees as a top priority considering that they are the ones performing the work, and the ones who have to be focused and on the front lines every day. It’s in everyone’s best interest for them to engage and thrive.

The days of simply offering a gym membership are over — that’s not going to keep you competitive as you try to win talent. According to Jim Harter, Ph.D., Gallup’s chief scientist of employee engagement and well-being, engagement can be a key indicator of company performance in a struggling economy. In a recession, Harter says, disengaged workers are just “waiting around to see what happens.” But engaged workers try to make a difference and are more productive.

Employee well-being is top of mind in countries around the world. Sanna Marin, the young, newly appointed prime minister of Finland, has in the past proposed a four-day workweek and a six-hour workday in a bid to transition the country to what she called “the next step for us in working life.” And last November, Microsoft Japan revealed that its four-day workweek trial boosted productivity by 40%.

Research by Gallup once indicated that a focus on five elements of well-being — career, social, financial, physical and community — allows people to thrive in their lives. Gallup has also indicated that only 34% of American workers are engaged in their jobs. Clearly, employers have a lot to do to unlock the full potential of their workforce. As noted by the Society for Human Resource Management, Caterpillar, the construction-equipment maker, saw nearly $9 million in annual savings that resulted from efforts to increase employee engagement.

Maybe this is the decade that will bring the four-day workweek to the United States, allowing people to be more engaged, happy and healthy. Small or large, the impact of a well-being officer on your workforce will reap rewards far beyond what you might anticipate.

This article originally appeared in the Denver Business Journal. It was written by Debra Young, Managing Partner of Sheer Velocity and Ad Capita’s international partner in USA.

“When generations collide” How HR is rising to the challenge of a multigenerational workforce.

The New Challenge 

A core challenge over the next decade will be to attract and retain a skilled workforce as the labor market continues to tighten, technology continues to evolve, and fewer foreign students immigrate to Britain in the wake of a politically challenging environment.

This situation is exacerbated as companies find themselves managing four generations of workers:

  • Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964) 
  • Generation Xers (Born between 1965 and 1980) 
  • Generation Ys or Millennials (born after 1980) 
  • Generation Z (and were born between 1995 and 2015) 

The number of Millennial and Gen Z employees is expected to surpass Baby Boomers (individuals in their late 50s and older) by the end of 2019 and they will comprise nearly half of the total working population by 2020. 

Today, you never know what generations will be represented in any room you step into—every meeting with clients, new customers or colleagues; every networking event; every recruiting or interview conversation—could include people up to six decades apart in age and work experience. 

Each group has its own distinct characteristics, values, and attitudes toward work, based on its generation’s life experiences. To successfully integrate these diverse generations into the workplace, companies will need to embrace radical changes in recruitment, benefits, and creating a corporate culture that actively demonstrates respect and inclusion for its multigenerational work force. 

The Modern Workforce 

Let’s take a look at each generation individually: 

Baby Boomers. Boomers are the first generation to actively declare a higher priority for work over personal life. They generally distrust authority and large systems. Their values were shaped primarily by a rise in civil rights activism. They are more optimistic and open to change than the prior generation, but they are also responsible for the “Me Generation,” with its pursuit of personal gratification, which often shows up as a sense of entitlement in today’s workforce.

The term “baby boomers” emerged in the US to describe the group of the population born between the end of the second world war and the early 1960s, there has been less consensus in the UK as to who the baby boomers are. # 

Generation Xers. Generation Xers are often considered the “slacker” generation. They naturally question authority figures and are responsible for creating the work/life balance concept. Born in a time of declining population growth, this generation of workers possesses strong technical skills and is more independent than the prior generations. Because Gen Xers place a lower priority on work, many company leaders from the Baby Boomer generation assume these workers are not as dedicated; however, Gen Xers are willing to develop their skill sets and take on challenges and are perceived as very adaptive to job instability in the post-downsizing environment. 

Millennials or Generation Ys. This group is the first global-centric generation, having come of age during the rapid growth of the Internet and an increase in global terrorism. They are among the most resilient in navigating change while deepening their appreciation for diversity and inclusion. With significant gains in technology and an increase in educational programming during the 1990s, the Millennials are also the most educated generation of workers today. Additionally, they represent the most team-centric generation as they have grown up at a time where parents programmed much of their lives with sports, music, and recreational activities to keep them occupied while their Boomer parents focused on work. Gen Z: This generation are true digital natives: from their youth, they have been exposed to the internet, social networks, and mobile systems. The newest generation on the block has grown up in a hyper-connected world making them globally connected but politically anxious. Unlike millennials, they’re characterized as very resourceful but they both share the same goal of wanting to have an impact on the world.

How to approach the multi-generational challenge 

As these four generations continue to interact, companies can no longer assume that high pay will secure the top talent. As more Baby Boomers seek “post-retirement careers,” Gen Xers demand challenging but balanced work assignments, Millennials expect high perks in exchange for loyalty therefore, leaders must find creative ways to recruit and retain talent. 

Reenergize your compensation and benefits. Companies must approach compensation, benefits, and incentives to satisfy the needs of each generation’s unique perspectives, attitudes, and values about work. For example, as more people retire later in life, many will want a different approach to working as opposed to increased compensation. Younger people may value more flexibility in their careers, like assignments that foster new skill sets they can apply in later years. Older workers may want research assignments and paid sabbaticals during which they can engage in learning programs. Don’t assume that everyone loves your current benefits plan. Many companies now offer flexible hours, alternate work schedules, and telecommuting. Findings from IWG’s Global Business Survey found that each week, 70% of employees are working somewhere other than the office for at least one day. 

Expand your communication strategies. Most companies rely too heavily on one strategy for corporate communication. By making the same message available in multiple formats (thus increasing the number of times you communicate a message), you’ll ensure that you reach all workers. Baby Boomers may appreciate verbal communication about changes in policy or procedures, while Generation Xers and Millennials may prefer the use of e-mail, instant messages, or corporate broadcasts. 

Conduct generational information awareness/sharing sessions. A great way to get people to work together across the generations is to provide them with an opportunity to educate each other about each generation’s own history, characteristics, milestone events, culture, language, and norms. Rather than talking at your people, have representatives from each age-based generation put together programming to educate people and facilitate dialogue. 

Fostering engagement across generational lines 

Take note of new approaches to employee engagement. There has been a rise in the development of employees mobilising and creating working groups on topics that are important to them. Self-directed groups focused on diversity, including gender, race and sexuality are some of the most common ones present in organisations today. Businesses must take the time to understand the reasons these groups are forming and find ways to support them through integrating them into existing corporate structures without alienating the participants. It’s essential to create an environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work without feeling as if they must hide important parts of their identity to feel comfortable in the workplace. 

There has been a rise in the development of employees mobilising and creating working groups on topics that are important to them. Self-directed groups focused on diversity, including gender, race and sexuality are some of the most common ones present in organisations today. Businesses must take the time to understand the reasons these groups are forming and find ways to support them through integrating them into existing corporate structures without alienating the participants. It’s essential to create an environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work without feeling as if they must hide important parts of their identity to feel comfortable in the workplace.

Make mentoring a constant. As your more established and experienced workers head toward retirement, develop strategies to ensure knowledge transfer and capture organisational memory. The more structure you can lend to your mentoring program to create knowledge transfer the better. First determine younger employees’ goals and developmental needs, and then pair them with older, more experienced employees to create cross-organisational dialogue among generations. Consider various mentoring models—one-on-one sessions, group programs, senior leadership discussion panels, and a “speed mentoring” program where employees sit across from company experts to ask questions. No matter what method you choose, making mentoring a part of the employment life cycle will ensure that the company’s history and knowledge continues from one generation to the next. 


With the variety of multigenerational employees in today’s workplace, companies can no longer abide by traditional rules of leadership and management. Organisations can achieve real strategic advantage by embracing the diversity among generations to create a flexible work environment that values all people and keeps them productive, regardless of age. 

Train yourself and your managers to develop strong interpersonal skills to foster relationships with employees and each other. A leader’s primary responsibility is to ensure that everyone in the organisation understands that “working together” is not negotiable. Create a respectful, open and inclusive environment where workers of all ages and cultural backgrounds can share who they are without fear of being judged, “fixed,” or changed. Leaders must remain open to new ideas and provide constant feedback, working with managers and staff to shape the company’s strategic vision. They must avoid projecting their own expectations about work and remain open to different perspectives based on generational attitudes.

This article was originally posted in our International Website. It was written by Michelle Carson-Williams and Amy Speake, our INAC partners in the UK.

Closer than ever before

The coronavirus crisis is now unfolding fast and merciless in front of our incredulous eyes. 

Sadly, we will not be able to avoid the loss of lives and the heartbreaking global human impact of this catastrophic outbreak. There is nothing we can really do to escape its seismic waves as they severely hit markets, industries, business and jobs.

Ad Capita Executive Search is very conscious of its responsibilities. With fellow consultants and ongoing mandates in all the affected countries, we immediately took every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our people, their families and the surrounding communities. We first started implementing a limited travel policy that applied both ways to consultants as to customers or candidates visiting our offices. We rescheduled all of our global conferences as well as international and domestic events. Very quickly we started the transition of our teams to remote working environments.

Although it is still uncertain how it is going to end it will make a huge difference how decisive our behaviour must be to tackle it. Speed is absolutely critical in dealing with these unprecedented exponential challenges and ambiguities. 
Our firm is profoundly aware of its categoric imperative to act – promptly and unconditionally – providing objective outlooks, consultative guidance and sense of continuity, to our customers, candidates and to the diverse business communities we are connected with.

With 60 affiliated offices worldwide and a client portfolio of thousands of companies covering virtually every continent, industry and function, Ad Capita as the exclusive INAC member firm for Portugal, is in a very unique position to rapidly gather intelligence from partners and consultants who are currently immersed in shaping solutions, advising and supporting executives, leadership teams and boards in every way possible, exploring together all options available so your company may be better equipped to what’s coming.

Stay safe. Stay prepared. Stay closer.

Rui Borges
Managing Partner

Millennials: Once in a Blue Moon

Red. That’s the colour of a blue moon. A phenomenon. Something that occurs infrequently. Something that takes aeons to come around.

Well, 2.7 years, actually. That’s how often you can catch a blue moon. Not so long, really. It also happens to be roughly the amount of time between now and 2023.

In the same period, by 2023, the Millennial generation will comprise way over 50% of the global workforce.

This is daunting prospect. After all, this is a generation fuelled by personal ambition and entitlement. A generation that exhibits little loyalty, other than that afforded to their beloved digital devices. A generation that is easily distracted, impatient and devoid of decision-making capability.

A generation that, in 2023, will likely be worth more than USD $6.5 billion to the global search and recruitment industry.

What if this generation were like a blue moon – clouded by misperception? Not actually blue.

Millennials: Not so different

While many argue otherwise, there is little empirical evidence to suggest that the Millennial generation (born 1980-2000) is particularly different from any other.

But, Millennials are purpose driven? On the contrary, only 30% categorise themselves as such, compared to 48% of Baby Boomers.

They’re all about positive impact? Millennials (25%) are only marginally more likely to want to make a positive impact on their organisation than Generation X (21%) or Baby Boomers (23%).

Tough to manage and disengaged? Millennials seek inspirational leadership, a clearly articulated business strategy, performance-based recognition and flexibility; but no more so than Generation X or Baby Boomers.

Millennials can’t make decisions, so how can they lead? True. Over half of Millennials feel that better business decisions are made via a consultative approach. But, two-thirds of Generation X say the same.

Okay, but they won’t stay long, will they? Well, 47% of Generation X would leave their current job for more money, compared to only 42% of Millennials.

Furthermore, most generations have looked towards the next with an element of suspicion and, at times, confusion. Certainly, Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) accused Generation X (born 1960s-1970s) of being lazy and disaffected.

So, are Millennials as mysterious and beguiling as is typically perceived? Probably not. Any difference is more likely a factor of stage of life and the environment in which they operate, rather than anything to do with generational membership.

Nevertheless, while perceptions may often contravene reality, they are influential. If biases cloud judgement, as they do, the vast potential of the Millennial generation will go unfulfilled.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”
Aldous Huxley

Search: The Triple Challenge

What is beyond conjecture or perception is that at some point in a generational cycle, each respective generation dominates the global workforce – now is that time for Millennials. While it may be a misunderstood generation, it is one rich with opportunity.

Capitalising on the creativity, capability, knowledge and purpose of this generation is crucial to the evolution and on-going success of both the search industry and global business. After all, the strength of the market and the workplace therein depends on what the Millennial generation can accomplish.

In the United States alone, Millennials will have more than $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020. If businesses cannot retain and engage Millennials, innovation, productivity and, ultimately, profitability will deteriorate.

Consequently, search firms face a triple challenge:not only must they support their clients in harnessing the capabilities of the Millennial generation to deliver business growth, they also need to identify methods to connect with Millennial candidates and support them to dispel popular misconceptions, all whilst targeting Millennials to support the growth of their own businesses, via social, digital and technology evolution.

“In the United States alone, Millennials will have more than $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020.”
Marketing to Millennials, Mintel

Cross-generational proficiencies

Business leaders place a high value on being advised by experts, particularly those able to identify, understand and engage with the best talent, locally and globally. Most leaders are striving to adapt their businesses to ever- changing demands, none more so than those posed by technical and digital evolution.

To illustrate the point it is evident that candidates with digital and technical experience were the most sought for the past couple of years. Allied to the surge of interest in topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics and digital technologies, there is little doubt that global business is in the midst of profound change. Digital evolution has never been so fast, yet will never be so slow.

While employees of all ages have embraced the technical revolution, most businesses remain tentative and slow to adapt. As digital natives, Millennials are tailor-made for the challenge. Thus, search firms have an important role to play, providing their clients with the guidance and accuracy of information they so value.

Crucial to this guidance, though, is understanding the remit; which is less about generational transition and more about the ability to combine and harness proficiencies that transcend generational clichés. The opportunity, for search firms, to dispel the misconceptions and assist their clients to leverage the capabilities of digital natives, is substantial.

Encouragingly, Millennials are an amenable audience. Not only are they the most diverse generation yet, but they are, arguably, the most open-minded. What is great news for prospective employers and search firms alike, is that 93% of Millennials are interested in hearing about job opportunities and 66% would look favourably upon the approach of a recruiter. Having established the value of the Millennial capital, businesses and their search agents face the challenge of connecting with these candidates and creating a work environment in which multi- generational talent can thrive.

Consumers of the workplace

As much as the Millennial audience may be amenable, it is also discerning. As a generation of consumers, Millennials view the workplace no differently; as such, they are ‘consumers of the workplace’. Consequently, Millennials perceive employers as vendors of a product (their business) and the job application as a consumer undertaking. Ultimately, moving job has become a major purchase decision.

This attitude is perceived by many businesses and their talent advisors to typify the entitlement that personifies the generation. Nevertheless, the need to understand an organisation’s strategy is a cross-generational trait. Indeed, IBM found that Millennials demanded a clearly articulated business strategy from their employers just as much as Baby Boomers.

More poignantly, this demand for information should be embraced. After all, the desire and ability to understand and evaluate, thus informing decision-making, are characteristics businesses crave in their employees. By appraising their prospective employer, a candidate is exhibiting the very skills that they most seek.

Therefore, search agents and their clients must consider adapting their mind-sets; not in response to a generational shift, but to adjust to a more informed society that favours open dialogue, collaboration and transparency.

“Millennials are more likely to decline freelance work in favour of full-time employment.”
– 2017 Millennial Survey, Deloitte

Fundamentally, Millennials, as much as any other generation, seek stability. They have grown up in a fickle environment, underpinned by recession and insecurity. Accordingly, they are now more likely to decline freelance work in favour of full-time employment. Consequently, a core tenet of the Millennials’ decision-making process is about establishing trust and gaining a level of surety.

“Millennials demanded a clearly articulated business strategy just as much as Baby Boomers.” 
– LinkedIn Talent

As a result, it has become pivotal for businesses to develop a multi-faceted corporate persona that not only reflects reality, but is also corroborated by employees (i.e. the review component of the consumer process). Thus, the ability to articulate a compelling and multi-dimensional story has become of paramount importance.

Character-defining traits, such as trust and transparency, are now as important as corporate credibility, career opportunity and compensation in candidates’ decision-making processes.

Interestingly, could it be that Millennials assess the social values of a business more as a means of appraising its character than satisfying their own personal desire for social empowerment?

Conjecture aside, as much as the Millennial generation will champion the assimilation of technology, the ability to build individual relationships, founded upon trust and transparency, is still the feature they most value. To that end, while the talent they engage and the practices they deploy may be evolving, the core competencies of search remain unchanged.

Interpretation is everything

The gathering momentum of this evolution is one search firms are aware of; indeed, AESC members believe that adapting to new search technologies, responding to the challenge posed by clients’ disruption through technology and retaining top talent rank among their greatest tests of the near future.

The search industry recognises that the skills and innovative nature of digital natives are no less valuable to them than they are to their clients. Nonetheless, there is a reluctance within the industry to deviate too far from traditional approaches for fear of isolating generations less amenable to change – an apprehension founded more on (mis)perception than reality.

Millennials have a significant role to play. After all, 68% of managers say that Millennials have skills earlier generations lack.
Embracing these skills to drive innovation and evolution of their own talent and digital strategies will, in turn, allow search firms to demonstrate the power and opportunity of evolution to their clients.

Indeed, there is no substitute for leading by example; to that end, it is imperative that search firms and talent advisors evolve their own businesses, both in terms of the talent they engage and the practices they deploy.

Once again, interpretation is everything. Neither Millennials nor their generational counterparts favour a technology revolution. On the contrary, while candidates and employees are adept at interacting online, all generations favour face-to-face communication. Accordingly, evolution should be led by a desire to enrich communication, personalise interaction and enhance transparency; facilitated by technology.

“All generations favour face-to- face communication.”
IBM Research

Ultimately, the way businesses fuse the people they employ, the processes they deploy and the technologies they leverage will define the extent to which they can capitalise on the opportunities manifest in the Millennial generation.

In summary, like a blue moon, the Millennial generation is undeniably distinct from those that came before. Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a digital world; communicating and collaborating is second-nature. They have witnessed the re-invention of terrorism, political polarisation and global financial crises; instability is habitual. They are, like every other generation, products of their environment.

The truth about Millennials is distorted by (mis)perception. Only circumstantial evidence can attribute the evolutionary challenges faced by businesses to generational forces. Indeed, such rationale serves to distract from more tangible business challenges, such as career development, work-life balance, reward and purpose, which transcend generations.

Unlike a blue moon, this generation will not come around every 2.7 years. But, for the foreseeable future, Millennials will dominate the workplace, embarking on careers and ascending to leadership positions. They will thrive and they will do this alongside past and future generations, irrespective of (mis)perceptions.

Millennials may not be blue; but, as humans, they are irrefutably the same as those that preceded them and those which will succeed them. As Elspeth Reeve observed:

“It’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists, it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older.”

A boss in the Gig Economy

An increasing number of younger managers choose temporary managerial assignments. What are they powered by? And what does this mean for the employer and the organization?

Suddenly we read about the gig economy everywhere. That more and more young people choose flexibility and freedom over permanent employment. We read about their driving forces, lifestyle and values. About the emergence of networks for digital nomads. But also, about how employers need to think about how to attract gig workers, and to give them reasonable conditions regarding insurance and pensions.

How should we think about recruiting managers? Are gig managers just a new word for interim managers, an arrangement for time-limited jobs that have been around and worked for decades? It was one of the areas of our recent conference in the INAC network. It became clear that we, across offices in the different parts of the world, share the same picture; now more and more young managers are choosing to form their own company and take temporary managerial assignments – and the development is fast.

From mainly being about senior executives bridging a vacancy or running a specific change project, and not always being completely self-elected but an opportunity towards the end of a long managerial career, we now meet more and more young executives who refuse to accept permanent employment. “If your client is looking to drive this change with full force for a year, I am interested in taking it as a limited time assignment. If they want to hire someone, I’m not the right person”.

Who are the gig managers?

Those we meet are driven by a clear mission where they can use their skills and power to deliver visible results in a short time. They get the energy out of working with change. They are curious and interested in working in different organizations and cultures. They want to feel free, engage in their own or others’ projects for periods of time, or have simply found their way to create a balance between work, family and home time.

What do they add?

After discussing with clients who have tried young gig managers, we get mixed conclusions. Several says that “they come in with energy and power and start their change mission without starting distance”. They bring new perspectives and other experiences of everything from technical solutions to work procedures and methods.

Some say that “they become like a management consultant on the inside, they are part of the organization the time they are here”. Since they do not already have relationships and loyalties in the organization, they experience great freedom of movement internally; they can tear apart invisible structures and bridge old barriers. We also hear that “they make clear demands on their employees and they make people talk to each other and move forward”.

And the downside?

Lack of continuity and long-term view is – not surprisingly – what first comes up in our conversations. They do not have the time to create an overall picture of the business and the organization and they do not have the prerequisites to foresee the consequences of their actions. A common reflection is that “what gives a positive effect in the short term may have downsides that need to be taken care of later – when they are long gone”.

Our clients also agree on the downside from the employees’ perspective. They are energized and challenged by their gig manager, but they lack a manager with longer perspectives on their development and they lack the sense of security and belonging that comes with a longer working relationship with their manager.

“Certainly a gig manager, but not several in a row!”

To live or die: the dilemma of companies on leadership issues

Transformational leadership is the key tactic for the survival of fragile companies in these times of uncertainty.

A company stands out for its leadership

Transformational leadership is a key tactic to get organizations afloat in difficult times. There are periods or situations in which leaders are challenged to demonstrate what they are made of. They are required to reinvent themselves and become, more than ever, an influence and inspiration to their collaborators; characteristics that make up the transformational style.

But why can someone under this type of leadership make a difference in complicated scenarios? What qualifications should they have, and how to manage this style?

The concept was originated and introduced by James MacGregor Burns, and is defined as the type of leadership exercised with a strong vision and personality, in order to be able to change expectations, perceptions and motivations of the work team, as well as lead the change within an organization.

In short, we can say that it is the ability to encourage others to achieve comprehensive objectives based on guiding, inspiring and modeling by example, developing inclusive thinking in the person or work teams.

In uncertain scenarios, such as possible throughout political and economic changes, companies tend to have fragile environments that have an important impact on the motivation and even concentration of employees at all levels.

Also, one can experience a climate that is not focused on results and more concerned with understanding how the current conditions can be seen and how committed your future will be within the organization.

Faced with this unfavorable situation, any company, including the most solid, may suffer a strong shock, but it is the leader who is responsible for acting on time, reversing the situation and managing the organization in bad times.

Closeness, containment and inspiration: transformational qualities

His work in these scenarios should always be close to people, with a high level of listening and empathy, and with a genuine connection with talent to really be able to have the opportunity to direct and calm anxieties. Your communication processes must be much more proactive than reactive. In the same way, the leader must be very prepared, intellectually and academically, to understand how adversity will be dealt with and how to contain good or bad news.

Another fundamental characteristic is a positive attitude and with a high emotional intelligence, where instead of seeing obstacles, learn to see opportunities within not so clear horizons. Able to have and maintain an attitude above the line; that is, proactive rather than reactive, but above all it must be someone who has a very developed capacity for inspiration, containment and empathy.

Other features that must be present in a leader in the face of complicated times are humility and resilience. Humility in the aspect of understanding that many new questions will arise, where perhaps the answers are in the new generations.

We must have humility to be accompanied, as much as possible, by people who can complement us and help us to have a more comprehensive and successful strategic vision. And resilience to recover, overcome and adapt quickly to adversities.

While it is true, that in Mexico and Latin America, company leaders are used to leading under fragile economies and uncertain circumstances. However, that does not free them from feeling vulnerable to the complexities; it is right there, when the leader and all his emotional set must gain more strength to succeed.

Points in favor

As we can see, transformational leadership determines that for an organization to grow, it is necessary to maintain the motivation of all the parts that comprise it. Thus, it requires a closer push from the worker with less responsibility to the managers or owners of the company.

Some of the main advantages that it brings are: motivation, training and effective leadership. Motivate employees, give them confidence and make them participants in the company’s successes, increase their productivity and thus obtain better business results.

On the other hand, training them encourages the individual development of employees and constantly challenges them intellectually. And as for the effectiveness of the style, we can affirm that the leader ends up becoming a real reference for his collaborators, since he knows how to manage his team and make them grow through collective goals.

Opting for a leadership style that is not very close, with little listening and only giving instructions, can bring negative results. It can cause a loss of direction and that priorities are not worked on; that there is no focus on the important things and that a toxic work environment is present.

In short, a loss of talent can occur when the collaborator feels confused, having little clarity. The transformational leader must add to the strengths of his teammates in order to achieve a stronger core that allows him to keep his entire team focused, united and focused on any situation that may arise.

Leadership is key within companies

But how do we manage optimally and reduce uncertainty in the work team?

Understand how uncertainty will disturb. Analyze the changes that will be presented and the rules of the game; make a 360 analysis that allows for more clarity.

Define what the challenge will be. List the circumstances to face, what will be the consequences and implications of the changes that are coming.

Seek inspiration from other cases that have been similar. Today everything is documented, check what has been done in other ways to resolve these conflicts, even in other industries or other markets, this will save you time for action.

Structure a well informed and clear plan. Build the strategies that will allow you to face the circumstances.

Communicate and involve the team. Draw them and listen to them to be very close. Get them on board for the transformation process and make sure that the actions and plan are being carried out correctly and with the expected result. It is essential to constantly evaluate to determine the effectiveness of the strategy, and if necessary, change course.

Companies with satisfied employees

Finally, it is precisely these times of uncertainty, crisis and transformation that allow us to leave our comfort zone and develop skills that we may not have today, both as a leader and as a member of a team.

We must not be afraid of the changes, on the contrary, we must visualize them as a form of growth and challenge ourselves to be better professionals, but above all, understand that if we take it from the point of view of an opportunity, rather than a threat, the perks can be extraordinary. It is an opportunity to strengthen, discover new skills and aptitudes, but above all to work more as a team.

Qualities and skills of a transformational leader:

  • Close and with an open and direct communication for all its collaborators;
  • Positive and purposeful;
  • Humble and resilient;
  • Disruptive thinking and able to find new solutions;
  • Capable to adapt to any situation (flexible);
  • Able to generate strategic alliances and with high internal and external influence.

This article originally appeared in our International Website. It was written by Angeles Madrigal, our partner in Mexico.

SME’s and Mid-Caps: The Backbone of the EU Economy facing many challenges!

SMEs (0 to 250 employees), Mid-Caps (250 to 3000 employees), including family companies, are the major part of the European economy and important drivers of growth, innovation and employment. They represent 99% of businesses in the EU, employ two thirds of the active working population and represent over 85 % of job creations.

Although they are leveraging on innovation and economic performance, they are very often facing the same challenge and issues.

Difficult and slow-paced international development

Indeed, their size is often critical, and they have many projects in their domestic markets, but they have a hard time grasping international markets and their specificities. They have an opportunistic international vision that unfortunately lacks long-term structure with synergies and rich cultural mix within their teams.

More and more aware of this challenge, European Union has launched several programs (f.i. COSME) with more focus to support international development and access to markets for SME’s and Mid-Caps, but also to facilitate access to financing at all stage of their international development (f.i. specific active support of the European Investment Bank).

Managerial renewal difficulties

Mostly facing reverse pyramid of age effect in the management and executive level (with a majority of the population in the range of the 60 years), the problem of executive succession planning arises regularly.

To preserve the long-term DNA of the company and to support future expansion, these companies need to anticipate the succession planning by establishing appropriate related governance.

Supervisory Boards should, for instance, be more open to external independent advisors, to anticipate and secure successions, but also to makes some sensitive decisions easier. With specific understanding and experience with these SME, Mid-Caps and Family companies, these advisors should demonstrate specific leadership and listening skills, empathy and ability to understand the most complex and emotional dimensions of these companies.

Some Corporate functions still lacking empowerment and impact

Corporate functions (HR, Finance, Purchasing, IT,…) are still too often neglected and considered as “secondary” asset. Although, these functions play a key role in structuring and supporting the development of the company.
General Management should rely more on some Corporate functions to support their international expansion and growth.

  • CFO’s playing key role for managing the company, evaluate flexibility, securing growth of the business (financing, cash management,…) or evaluate external growth opportunities.
  • Human Resources Directors playing crucial and leading role in the social transformation of the company (transmission, cultural renewal, skills development, anticipating social conflicts,…).
  • IT Directors perceiving the digital transformation opportunities on the market, but lacking benchmarks and information in order to progress on these topics and make the right choices.

Very often SME’s, Mid-Caps are hesitant to recruit sufficiently high profiles to face these challenges, fearing the cultural difference. However, by recruiting profiles that do not have the level to tackle the strategic challenges, they take the risk of being unable to achieve a successful transformation and as such losing major growth opportunities.

Increasing attractiveness to recruit experienced executives from large groups

Stability, long term vision, freedom and agility on investment strategy, quicker decision process, are strong arguments SME’s, Mid-Caps and family companies can oppose to large international groups completely depending on stock exchange evolution and facing recurrent restructuration and rationalization programs.

The opportunities they can offer to the candidates are becoming more and more attractive to experienced executives working in large international corporation and willing to have more impact and front-end responsibilities in their next career step.
However, selection and integration process of candidates coming from large groups should be approached with maximum care as the professional context, organization and expectations are very different. Candidate should be much more polyvalent and hands-on as there is no large corporate structure to rely on; they should be self-motivated, entrepreneurial and much more evolutive in their approach. Strong adaptative skills are definitely key in this context.

In order to face all these challenges, recruitment of management and executive level has become a major challenge for SME’s, Mid-Caps and Family Companies. But as the financial impact of an error is far from being negligible, partnering with recognized international executive search network with strong references in this niche is essential.

Jean-François Mahieu – INAC Belgium

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