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Choosing your executive team members

Choosing a new business leader for your executive team is perhaps one of the most important things where you may make a difference. Choosing right or wrong can literally mean the difference between millions of Euro's of value, either created or destroyed.


You can involve as many people as you want for this process. Hire respected headhunters and assessment companies. But it continues to be an informed estimation of what to expect in the future. And at the end of the day it’s your decision.


My recommendation is to try to boil it down to the bare essence. In my experience, you basically are always looking for just four parameters that always come back:


  1. Integrity
  2. Intelligence
  3. Experience
  4. Drive


Let’s take a closer look.


  1. Tom Peters already said it decades ago: “there is no minor lapse in integrity.” Integrity builds trust. And trust is the basis for every business and team to be successful. A no brainer. Go deep when you do a background check on someone. Don’t just scratch the surface.
  2. This is an interesting one. I’ve seen so often how executives are trying to hire the smartest person they can find. Top of their class. With impressive diplomas from prestigious universities. And this is wrong. Yes, your candidate needs to be intelligent enough to do the job, but that’s enough! Don’t fall into the trap of assuming: the smarter, the more successful this person will be.
  3. Nothing beats experience. You simply cannot be experienced without having invested years into learning a craft or building a network. It simply takes time and effort, period. However, there can be very good reasons to hire someone with less experience. Someone you can groom.
  4. I’ve worked and still work with multi-millionaires in their 60’s and 70’s. Question is: does somebody love what they do? Or do they love money even more? I can tell you: drive has not so much to do with money in the bank. You cannot force someone to be ambitious. It comes from within. Make an estimate of the intrinsic drive of your candidate.


A simple tool can be to ask the team involved in the hiring process, to assess every candidate with a score on a one to four scale, based on the information that they have received so far. If you get red flags at parameters one, two or four, stop and continue the search.


When you’re ready, put all the data together. Have the debate with your team and make your decision. And make peace with your decision. You will never have all of the information.


Hope this inspires.


Paul Donkers

Paul P.J. Donkers is a sought-after global business coach and management consultant. More about his work and projects can be found via and via

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By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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