Two thirds of private equity investors seeking new business leaders 

Unprecedented turbulent economic times have left investors seeking C-suites able to manage hostile environments.

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Crisis management is a top priority for the two thirds of private equity investors currently looking for new business leaders, a new report has found.

The Boardroom Navigator 2023 report, published by Robert Half, found that 64% of private equity investors are searching for experienced talent in response to a run of crises, including regulation and compliance issues, geopolitical tensions and inflation. 

New leaders for new times

Almost half (42%) of private equity investors surveyed revealed that they were seeking new leaders to manage supply chain disruptions, while 38% were seeking those with the ability to manage a company in a high inflation environment. 

The report flags how many board members across Europe are in unknown economic territory and lack experience to manage a business through multiple crises. It highlights what skills executive leadership teams and board of directors need to acquire and should pay attention to when filling top executive positions in their companies.

Soft skills shortage

It also found that key soft skills in leaders are being neglected by employers in favour of more traditional abilities. 

Leadership capability, strategic thinking and communication were cited as most important by boards and private equity investors, while resilience, creativity, negotiation and active listening appear to be less of a priority.

“The modern CEO and leadership team are no longer just decision-makers, but enablers,” says Karoli Hindriks, co-founder and CEO of Jobbatical, told Startups. “A big reason for this shift is that, a decade ago, it was much easier to build a team. 

Mission impossible?

“Today, all industries are experiencing a global talent shortage. The workforce today is far more transient, with the average millennial worker changing jobs two to three years. Workers today have much more choice and say. 

“As a result, the mission of a company and how it is run have become major factors in attracting – and repelling – talent, so the CEO’s role has become critical in new ways. They need to inspire teams and be the motivating force to drive closer to the mission.

“Today, CEOs are not sitting at the top, but rather among us.”

Future-proofing leadership roles

The report also shone a spotlight on poor planning when it comes to role succession. The recruitment process and handover to new leaders are important, but many businesses have yet to put plans in place.

Only 50% of boards surveyed said they have an onboarding strategy in place for new leadership positions, and 13% said they didn’t see a need for one at all.  

The report’s findings highlight the ever-changing demands of leadership roles during what remains an unpredictable and turbulent time for startups and small businesses.

Mid shot of Kirstie Pickering freelance journalist.
Kirstie Pickering - business journalist

Kirstie is a freelance journalist writing in the tech, startup and business spaces for publications including Sifted, TNW, UKTN, The Business Magazine and Maddyness UK. She also works closely with agencies such as CEW Communications to develop content for their startup and scaleup clients.

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