Career advice for top Executives by top headhunters

I had a look at businessWeek’s list of most influential headhunters and extracted their career advice to executives.

Besides a lot of open door remarks there is really sound advice in there, enjoy!

mostinf hh

Be consistent, walk the talk, and deliver. Be open, honest, and show your passion.

 In our present world, where everything is connected, there is only one possibility of saving the whole planet, including all its economic and business aspects. It is: “To be of service.”

Build a great team, be a leader, and make other people around you successful.

 Surround yourself with great people –people who play to win the right way, by the rules.

 Keep your character and personality; listen to and meet great CEOs; keep social life and politics to a minimum.

 Create teams that are diverse and performance-driven.

 Have a personal board of directors with two or three strong mentors among them. Learn from their collective wisdom and never underestimate the extraordinary power of networks.

 Sense of humor and humility are sought-after qualities. If you have both, show them.

 Disciplined, focused, global mindset

 True success comes when you work in a position that plays to your natural strengths, is meaningful to you, and allows you to work with people you genuinely like and respect.

 Drive and ambition, integrity, empathy, intellect, self-awareness

 Don’t forget where you came from and who helped you get where you are.

 You are never as smart as you think you are.

 Always lead by example. Stay humble and hungry. Never stop learning.

 Follow your heart, have the guts to involve your subordinates, put them in the limelight as they need to feel the empowerment and responsibility for what they do.

 Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. It is also essential to gain international experience.

 Find a mentor/sponsor who has a management style you want to learn from. Ask to talk with those who would be your peers before taking a job.

 Pick your jobs based on the experience you will get. Make sure you build a well-rounded career.

 Focus on integrity and the courage to do the right thing.

 Successful managers need to be focused on improving the results of the business). The second key competency is team leadership. A third competency is collaboration and influencing. And finally, strategic orientation enables leaders to think beyond the pressing issues of the day.

 Leadership, strategic vision of the business with a clear comprehension of current and future industry trends, balanced development of the emotional intelligence

 As Gilbert & George said: “Always be smoothly dressed, well groomed, relaxed, friendly, polite and in complete control….”
Integrity, selflessness
Stand for something; fundamental values still count. Relationships count more than people realize. It’s O.K. to be a little neurotic.

 Gain an early breadth of experience, and then focus on what you do well and what you are passionate about.
Gain international experience. Find a mentor.

 Think about how your actions will be perceived and interpreted by those around you.

 Seek out and contribute to an organization that interests you.

 Adopt an open and honest approach to problems and opportunities. Be confident in your knowledge and abilities, but don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.

 Surround yourself with the best possible talent you can find. Make sure you’re including a diverse range of opinions, cultures, and backgrounds. Be confident enough to encourage constructive differences of opinion. Don’t be afraid of hiring someone you might work for someday!

 Exceed expectations in every assignment; make your boss look good and he/she will want to take you with him/her.

 Young leaders charge down the pathway of their strength, that is their courage, deeply learned courage. Often young leaders confuse courage with natural talent. It is not the same thing. Courage can be learned.

 Tell the truth (or don’t say anything at all); distinguish yourself by doing great work (not self-promoting); keep your hands out of the cookie jar (and anywhere else they don’t belong).

 Obtain international experience. Stay in contact with the leading executive-search consultants. Take risks. Balance your life.

 Surround yourself with people who are smarter and better than you. Seek feedback on your interpersonal skills.

 Successful leaders must be decisive and able to act quickly on their decisions. They must be flexible and ready for change.

 Make sure your people respect you. Don’t forget where you came from.


 Do not be afraid to lead! Have a point of view/opinion and be passionate about it. Lead from the front for the benefit of others–not yourself–and your success will come.

 Work hard, show good results, take part in continuous training.

 Be humble and accept making mistakes. Leaders are neither heroes nor supermen, and they don’t walk on water. Their job is to lead others and make risky decisions to achieve results and grow profits.

 Stay the course, be innovative, and build teams to work together toward a common mission and goal.

 Never measure your career by positions, only by achievements.

 Lead with passion, ethically execute, prioritize the interests of legitimate stakeholders vs. those of people with a political agenda, and take the time to invest in and mentor the next generation of leaders.

 Expose yourself to as wide a range of experiences, academic knowledge, and cultures as you possibly can.

 Be the best at what you do today; do not try to be something tomorrow.

 Work hard and focus, make sure you are continuously learning.

 Continuous change is the value added you need.

 Build your early experience with great companies. Achieve outstanding corporate results. Surround yourself with the smartest people that complement your skills.

 Get a great mentor early in your career, have annual career audits, listen.

 Become global.

 You need to know your area of expertise but people count in the end. You have to be a global thinker to succeed. Have confidence, believe in yourself: Trust your instincts.

 Stick with it: demonstrate results. Pursue your passion: You have a higher probability of being excellent; know what you are good at and play to it; don’t be too proud to get good internal and external mentors/coaches.

 Take time to listen, understand, and help others.

 Create your own opportunities. The best leaders I have known took what appeared to be setbacks and transformed them into their greatest assets.

 The challenges and opportunities for next-generation leaders are immense. My advice for emerging leaders is to take those experiences that will develop their skills and leadership competencies broadly vs. taking a strictly vertical career path.

 Ask good questions, and do your homework.

 Be exceptional and we’ll find you.

 Greatness is available to you and to everyone.

 Be genuine, sincere, and grounded.

 Accomplish something, prove you can do it consistently, and then move on to a new challenge.

 Focus on environments where you can learn and have an impact.

 Be a team builder; be prepared to listen; share your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

 Exceed expectations on what you are currently doing and think ahead carefully about your long-term aspirations.

 Find the CEO. He or she will help you exceed your own limits.

 Don’t rush, and choose wisely. Many emerging leaders push to get to the next promotion, sometimes not living with the decisions of their previous position.

 Keep an open mind, keep learning, and be results-oriented.

 Be consistent in messaging, so you can develop leadership skills.

Develop broad-based skills by taking assignments in different functional disciplines and leading operations on multiple continents.

 Be sure to do a clear self-assessment before getting into the market for a new job (know your strengths and weaknesses), and remember, fit is everything.

 Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes.

 Be humble. Build strong relationships. Be honest.

 Always aim for better, no matter who is on the receiving end: employees, shareholders, customers, your spouse, or family. Avoid promising too much and always surprise with your delivery!

 Know yourself, and balance your work and personal life.

 I believe it was John Seely-Brown who said that the best way to move forward is to look around you. We are entering a new world – global – looking ahead only will give you blinders.

 Leaders need to have a vision with flexibility.

 Work hard, with total integrity.

 Lead by example; listen carefully; communicate clearly and often.

 Tell the truth even if it hurts. Speak well of your leaders even if they are nuts. Live life with a sense of urgency. Never go sailing with a captain who has never been aground…he doesn’t have enough experience.

 Have confidence in what you know but keep a constant vigil on what you don’t.

 To motivate people by learning how to treat them as individuals.

 Spend enough time in a position to go through the business cycle; broaden functional experiences.

Emerging leaders must understand that obtaining industry leadership requires more than just knowledge and skill sets.

 Take risks and be original.

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