For as long as I have been recruiting communications executives for senior positions, there is always a discussion about cultural fit. At the most senior levels, when the keys to success have to do with leadership and ability to work collaboratively with the executive team, cultural fit is the hardest to quantify. In the end, it is left simply to a visceral response and in some instances confirmed by (imprecise) personality exercises. While a problem with “fit” can lead to failure, success is about achieving results and overcoming the inherent risks in tackling a new job.
I have never seen an attempt to quantify those risk factors leading to the potential for success or failure of a newly hired VP, Chief Communications Officer. The key to the scale from low to extreme risk relates to how many unknowns there are about the role, the competitive environment, the organization and the sophistication of the hiring team.
The communications function seems to be somehow a “black box” to many operationally trained leaders. They find it difficult to define the bottom line benefits of a communications strategy in plain English to the organization. They may have a high level understanding of a specific problem communications can solve, but like an iceberg, they see the top 10% — an ultimate result but have no idea about the 90% that lies beneath the surface.