The Zero Budget Growth Strategy – Leadership Alert!

It’s a story I’ve heard several times in the last month or so. A story about companies making leadership appointments with the objective of organizational growth and transformation – only to discover that they no longer have the budget or investment appetite for said strategy.

When I hear this kind of echo, I know it’s pointing to something notable in the executive recruitment landscape. Something that must be taken note of, by employers, appointees, and the executive recruiters involved in the search process.

And the thing to take note of is the fast-changing economic environment, which experiences significant shifts over any six month period (the average duration of an executive search process, or longer, if you take into account the board approval process that would typically have taken place prior to mandating a search).

From the time that an organization signs off on its growth strategy, which may result in the need for a new leader to take the company through the inevitable transformation that is required for growth, to the decision to make an external appointment, and then the securing of the right leader….well, more than a year might have passed.

And we all know the kind of economic turbulence that can take place in a year.

Once everyone is on the recruitment train, though, it’s mostly all forward motion. Mandate the search, take the brief, scope the market, headhunt the candidates, shortlist, interview, make an offer, secure the appointment!

Almost no reflection on whether the lapse of time has impacted one very significant variable. The budget for growth. The budget for the investment in the transformation process.

At best, this oversight is caught prior to making an offer. Oops, no budget, no hire.

But sometimes the train goes all the way to the station. The Zero Budget Growth Strategy is then discovered only after the leader has landed.

Very much more than just Oops. More of a train-wreck, in fact, for the newly appointed leader, their team, and the board.

One which can be avoided with periodic reflection on whether the mandate for key appointments is still alive and well, and supported by a realistic budget and investment appetite.

– Debbie Goodman-Bhyat

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