After receiving questions from peers in the HR and talent community, Martin Hauck, People and Culture leader and host of From a People Perspective podcast, reached out to me to get my thoughts about the key differences between a Director, VP, and C-level. How can you identify leaders using metrics? And what is the best way to assess skills and competency when it comes to hiring and promoting leaders? Here are the key takeaways from our conversation.
By Jamie Hoobanoff, Founder of The Leadership Agency
Titles and roles are different depending on company size. This makes the recruitment process a little challenging. If you remove the titles from the role and are building out a competency framework, how do you assess those skills and talents? What should recruiters look for? And how would you go about building that framework?
As a recruitment expert, I'm often (on a daily basis) asked how myself and my team identify leaders in the market when it comes to hiring for our clients. Knowing what qualities and skills to look for, in addition to understanding the differences between a Director, VP, and C-level executive is crucial to avoiding a hiring mishap.
To start, its important to know the difference between a Director, VP, and C-level executive. When it comes to leadership and a hiring matrix, quantifiable details are huge, and there are distinct measurable differences between each level of leadership.
Here are three questions to ask when building a leadership competency matrix.
Who are they leading?
A Director will likely be leading people directly. In many cases, they will be more hands on in their approach and will be leading managers or team members. At this level, there is a lot of leading without title. Directors may be leading the development of a playbook or reporting numbers into a founder or at the investment level.
VPs on the other hand will be leading the Directors or other senior-level leaders. They can be more high level in their approach and sometimes will be leading less people. However, this also depends on the size of the company.
When it comes to C-level leadership, many will be leading VPs and other leaders of similar seniority.
Who are they reporting to?
Typically, Directors report directly to a VP. In fact, about 80% of Directors report into a VP of some sort. The other 20% report into a few different leaders. This is where the size and age of the organization has an impact. In an early stage startup for example, a Director may actually report directly to the C-level.
About 40% of VPs report into a C-level leader, such as a CRO or CFO. While 20% report into various leaders (this is where dotted lines come into play). In some cases, VPs will report directly to the founder. This is quite common in small startups.
Generally speaking, C-levels are at the top tier in an organizations hierarchy. In smaller companies, they may not have a C-level title and sometimes are reporting into the founder. To determine their level of expertise and leadership competency, using metrics and assessments in the hiring process will prove to be very valuable.
What is their impact on revenue?
To further understand a leader's role in an organization, its necessary to evaluate what their attachment to revenue is. Have they been responsible for multiplying the organization's revenue by 10? Do they have the strategy to prove that? These are indicators of someone that is capable, competent, and able to fulfill a leadership position - someone that can prove material impact.
Are they competent or just confident?
Most of us have encountered incompetent leaders. Businesses tend to promote people on the basis of confidence, charisma, and even narcissism. Instead companies should focus on competence, humility, integrity when hiring a leader or promoting internally.
Know the difference between confidence and competence. Over-confidence is typically a natural result of privilege, which is often linked to gender. Though this can be challenging to identify, there are a ton of tools and disruptive technology out there to assess traits or genetic code of leaders. You can use this to assess up and coming leaders in your organization, or rule people out altogether.
Its important to note that as HR and talent professionals, we do everything we can, beyond a hiring quote to diversify leadership. Making a real intentional commitment to diversity, especially at a leadership level will impact how you assess leaders and hire them moving forward.
"From a People Perspective is a podcast about fascinating professionals, how they got to where they are and where they're going from the lens of HR, Recruitment, and Operations, hosted by Martin Hauck."