For maximum company growth and impact, you need the right leaders in the right roles doing the right work. But finding the ideal leader is more art than science—and there’s more than one way to lock in the leadership you need.

The pros and cons of traditional executive search

When seeking to fill a leadership role, most companies default to the traditional method—hiring a firm to conduct an executive search. You lay out the role description, and the firm supplies some qualified candidates. Sounds easy… until you consider the big picture.

Despite their general acceptance, traditional executive searches have several downsides:

An executive search is (at best) cumbersome, and (at worst) highly costly and detrimental to agile forward progress. Between vetting candidates, conducting interviews, checking backgrounds and making decisions, it can take months to fill an executive role. Meanwhile, critical projects aren’t getting done, vital decisions are delayed, and strategic work isn’t getting the immediate attention it deserves. That’s a big problem with potentially harmful results.

Executive search is also expensive, and there’s no guarantee that the leader you bring on board will be a good fit for your organization in the long-term. If the leader proves to be a poor fit, you have few options but to start the costly, time-consuming process all over.

A smart alternative: Interim executives