How blockchain companies are building great leadership teams

As an advisor to one of the A-list blockchain venture capital funds in the US, I am privileged to enjoy a unique vantage point in the sector as a result of helping both early-stage and established blockchain and crypto companies with their hiring.

For those of them making their first external hire, it’s clear that it’s a really big deal for them to get it right. These companies, which may be no more than ‘projects’ with a little bit of funding behind them, are frequently founded by brilliant developers or computer scientists, who have never before hired anyone. Intimidating – not to mention risky – stuff!

Other blockchain companies who are little further in their journey are grappling for the best available Web3 tech resources – critical hires in order to grow.

For them, the current environment requires lazerlike focus and speed. Because right now, blockchain developers are in such high demand that if an offer is not made to a candidate in a first or second interview, companies will simply lose out on the talent to a competitor.

This means the stakes are high, because speed increases the odds of making a hire that’s a poor fit, (and, even in the blockchain, fit matters) while analysis paralysis is sure to make your company lose out as hot talent doesn’t hang around for endless rounds of interviews.

And then there are a smaller number of companies who have been around for a few years and can be considered ‘established organizations’, with serious tenure.

These companies are embarking on a different type of hiring, as they now need to supplement their leadership teams beyond the co-founders, in order to set the company up for the next phase of growth. This often entails populating roles that have not previously existed in the company, with people who may not be personally known to the founders. More risky business!

What makes this third category all the more intimidating, is that the founders who are hiring for their C-suite are frequently hiring for roles that they do not understand well, are not entirely clear about what good (or excellent) looks like, and don’t always have the experience to screen, interview and assess whether the candidate will be successful in the job, or a good fit for the company.

The companies who are nevertheless making good quality leadership appointments, despite their inexperience, consistently use these two hiring fundamentals:

  1. They create a well-defined job description, that focuses on the following:
  • the key outcomes that you’re hoping to achieve with the role
  • the job that needs to be done in order to achieve these outcomes
  • the non-negotiable skills and experience required in order to do the job and achieve the outcomes

Gaining clarity on this is the foundation to making a good quality hire. Without it, structured candidate sourcing and screening processes are virtually impossible.

  1. They have an interviewing ‘panel’ that includes an expert who can evaluate and assess the relevant skills.

In many cases, the key interviewer is someone external to the company – an advisor, colleague, functional expert or friend. Without this ‘subject matter expert’, it may be challenging to determine whether your C-level candidate has the skills for the role, and what typically transpires is that leadership appointments are made based on ‘chemistry’ and hope. Neither of which are good predictors of success.

But these two foundational hiring practices are. They are tried and tested, in all sizes of companies, and at any stage of growth or funding round. Nothing fancy here – just the basic building blocks for great leadership appointments.

Author Info: Debbie Goodman

Debbie is Group CEO of Jack Hammer, a global group of executive search, talent advisory and leadership coaching companies. For more than 20 years she has partnered with some of the world’s most progressive companies, NPOs and VC-backed disruptors, in the USA and Africa, to help them find great leaders who drive growth and impact.

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