Bias Toward Action in Search

Bias Toward Action: Behind the Scenes of Search

This issue of The Chronicle examines Bias Toward Action, one of the ASLON Five leadership assessment criteria we use, along with other methods, to gain a clear understanding of a candidate’s leadership characteristics. Not only is Bias Toward Action an important leadership quality for individuals, it is also a critical component in the search process and the success of delivering top leaders.

Bias Toward action is vital for all parties involved in the search process: clients, candidates and the search firm itself. The client’s commitment to the process is an indicator of the type of culture the candidate can expect to experience. The candidate’s follow-through and responsiveness are indicators of his or her true interest level in the position. The search team plays a significant role as well: they need to connect candidate to client, pushing and pulling as necessary in order to ensure the momentum isn’t lost without unduly influencing the outcome.

Nothing can kill momentum in a search like inaction. Lack of timely candidate follow-up, irregular client communication, poor logistics planning, too much time between interviews…all death blows to a successful search process and all have a common theme….a lack of Bias Toward Action. As many of you are aware, the process draws parallels to dating. Two parties are involved, both have a desire to “find the right partner,” there needs to be a connection to ensure this advances to the next level, and so on. In the search world, we are professional matchmakers who must separate ourselves from the emotion of the situation and look at this proposed union objectively. But without a Bias Toward Action, the search firm can significantly contribute to a great relationship not working out.

While possible that some firms are more interested in just completing the transaction, the top search firms are concerned with the quality of the relationship and thoroughness of the vetting process.   This vetting process does take time, and that is why the Bias Toward Action is such an important attribute for your search firm to exhibit. It is important to ensure both the client and the candidate have had the opportunity to get their questions answered effectively, but it can’t cause the process to drag out for months due to the high risk that one or the other party will grow weary of the process.

Some things are out of the search firm’s control, but there are a few simple steps that can be implemented to increase the likelihood of securing the best candidates.

  1. Nail down client interview dates in the initial phases of a search project that both parties have agreed to, committing to be available for interviews. The search firm should have fully vetted candidates ready to go.
  2. Establish regular calls with the search firm that keeps everyone on the same page relative to progress.
  3. Share interview dates with prospective candidates early in the process so there are no surprises or conflicts.

Basic execution and simple steps are sometimes the best answer. Influential leaders know what success looks like and then make decisions that support success, whether it be developing a strategy or hiring a key leader for their team. A Bias Toward Action is a critical component in leadership and one that is imperative in the process of successfully identifying, assessing and delivering new leaders to an organization. Candidates slip away when there is too much delay between interviews and the possibility that their current company offers them an exciting new opportunity. Clients grow weary of the search and lose confidence in the firm doing the work.   Momentum is one of the most important factors in a good search process. It is a balancing act between rushing and keeping the process moving forward at a positive pace. Effectively managing this increases the likelihood of ensuring a great match between candidate and client.

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