The Crucial Prelude to Effective Executive Search.

Every hire is key to the success of your membership organisation, but the one role you can’t afford to get wrong is your leader. Executive Search in the membership sector is a hot topic with eyes across the sector and your own industries scrutinising the appointment of every senior role. As we emerge from a tense year for leadership in our sector, tarnished by high profile examples of leadership gone wrong, it’s more crucial than ever to ensure that the right candidates are selected for your top tier roles.

Effective Executive Search comprises many steps and rigorous assessment of your candidates, but the most crucial key to success is the foundation you and your stakeholders lay at the very beginning of the leadership hiring process.

We’re talking about the alignment of your stakeholders. A fundamental factor in finding the right leader for your organisation or professional body is confirming your key decision makers are all on the same page.



Stakeholders who are in agreement on what the organisation needs in their leader will experience a much smoother hiring and onboarding process, and enjoy longer term success and stability.

When you all know what you’re looking for from the onset, decisions can be made faster and you reduce the risk of internal conflicts that could erode the strength of your existing team.

Working together to identify what you need, and ensuring all stakeholders have an equal input to that process fosters a culture of collaboration, maintaining morale and providing your new leader with a positive environment in which to thrive.

Basing your search criteria on the collective needs of your stakeholders also helps to remove unconscious bias making a fairer hiring process and opening opportunities for a wider candidate pool. In getting the input from stakeholders across your organisation you can be confident that your next leader ticks the boxes required to achieve companywide success, rather than the siloed perspective of one function.

In so doing you mitigate the risks associated with an incompatible hire…



Even if stakeholders have a shared vision and goal for the company, perspectives can differ on what success of that strategy looks like.  Heading into an Executive Search process without the prior knowledge that you're looking for different things can lead to a lengthy, inefficient hiring journey and could pose some embarrassing mistakes down the line. 

Making the wrong hire at Executive level can have devastating effects on your organisation and professional reputation of your stakeholders. Alongside the costly impact of having to replace an unsuccessful leader, and the time involved in managing that process, the wrong hire can have a rippling effect from your internal teams to your external members.

A short unsuccessful tenure is disruptive, and can lead to a loss of confidence from both your staff and member community. Ill alignment could lead to stakeholder conflicts, drops in morale and the effect this can have on productivity, as well as have a lasting impact on your own professional reputation.

It is therefore vital that stakeholder alignment is prioritised before a job description is even drafted.

So how do you achieve it?



Identify your stakeholders

This may seem like an obvious step that can be jumped over, but take a moment to consider who the key stakeholders are in your leadership recruitment process. Of course your Board Members will be key, but consider the value of extending your alignment exercise to garner the perspectives of your Department Heads and HR functions too, to ensure all areas of your business are represented.


Strip out unconscious bias

Ask any of your stakeholders what they want from a leader and the answer will be rife with unconscious bias – it’s just in our nature. Getting to the crux of what you’re really looking for in an effective leader requires a focus on behavioural attributes over background and experiences (those come later).

By completing behavioural job surveys, such as those we offer at Membership Bespoke through validated psychometric practice McQuaig, hiring teams can be clear on the behaviours, attitudes and motivations of your ideal candidate that you believe are key to the success of the role.

One job survey alone can still be loaded towards the biases of that individual and their own perspective of your business, but when completed collaboratively and aggregated across your stakeholders, you begin to get a collective picture of what leadership needs to look like to satisfy all areas of your organisation.



An obvious necessity when aligning stakeholders is to communicate effectively. This can be easier said than done however with board members often working on multiple projects, across different timetables and potentially multiple time zones.

For those who experience real time communication challenges, working together on a collaborative platform, asynchronously can alleviate these time barriers, allowing communication to include all parties and the process to continue at a steady pace.

Once you have completed your job surveys, all in your own convenient time, you will have the foundation on which to steer your conversations and agree on the next steps for your hiring process.

In many cases you’ll find you are already aligned and can move on from this point, but what happens when one or more of your stakeholders have a very different view of what's needed in your next leader?

The additional benefit of an aggregated behavioural benchmarking exercise is that you can identify anomalies within your stakeholder group, allowing you the opportunity to explore why perspectives may differ and allowing for meaningful discussion. Perhaps there is a misinterpretation of your company goals that needs to be reviewed, or maybe there are areas of the business that require radical differences.

Either way, having an open dialogue will help to reach a consensus that all your stakeholders are happy with, allowing you to go out strong to your candidate pool with a clear idea of what you’re collectively looking for.


Prioritising this first step will ensure you find the right leader that covers the needs of your business as a whole, leading to a confident start and ongoing stability for your organisation.

At Membership Bespoke, we’re passionate about ensuring the integrity of our sector is upheld through the appointment of top tier talent.  We work with stakeholders during a comprehensive discovery phase to ensure everyone is on the same page before actively promoting and reaching out to our networks. 

Find out more about our Executive Search services.