Interview with Sebastian Stein – HR Business Forum




We are very grateful to have had our Managing Partner, Sebastian Stein, invited to speak at the DeBizz HR Business Forum webinar, held on the 16th of September.

In you are interested in finding out more about his perspective and expertise on the Executive Search market, Transformational Leadership and Employment challenges in the current context, please find below some highlights from the conference.


Through the lens of the Executive Search market 


An outlook on the Executive Search market during the present context

Regardless of the fact that most people are still working remotely, the demand for Leadership and Management is still extremely high; maybe even more so than before. Especially during these challenging times in the market companies are looking very much into identifying leadership teams who are able to deal with this uncertainty and to endorse a new leadership style, a new working culture driven by empowerment.

When we don’t have direct access to our people, we need to reinvent ourselves and to learn how to effectively distribute tasks and responsibilities and doing this remotely is definitely more challenging than it used to be before.

Nevertheless, this context also provides a big chance and we believe that companies should now intend for a longer-term vision by not only focusing on what is, but also by utilizing the intricacies of a crisis for what could be.

Considering that we are dealing with a global pandemic, we have noticed that organizations are having the tendency to go regional, in order for them to discern how the direct impact affects the structure dynamic. It seems that the markets in CEE are consolidating, with a lot of M&A processes and those who have invested in Eastern Europe are making use of the prospect to enlarge their businesses and to become stronger players in the future. This market consolidation is also a big asset for new entries, for investors coming into the region.

Due to the current unpredictability, we, as an Executive Search company, have to constantly reinvent ourselves by diving deeper into what our clients’ real needs are and what Leadership solutions we need to implement. Therefore, Management placing is not enough anymore because we need to understand what the pain points of an organization are in order to integrate the most appropriate solutions for the future development of the company.

At the same time, we believe that Leadership and people will remain in the focus of each company, especially in Eastern Europe where agility is lived to a much higher extent in comparison with the Western markets.

Changes following the global pandemic

We had to adjust to the context and moved in the virtual environment, conducting searches entirely online, sometimes not meeting face-to-face neither the clients nor the candidates, which was atypical for us in the beginning because we were used to feeling the pulse of one-on-one interactions. Moreover, we even conducted online assessment and development centers and concluded that cross border searches are made easier and more efficient.

Surprisingly, until now, we noticed no deficit in the quality of selection, having almost 100% closing rate for our projects, except those which stopped due to the hiring freeze.

What are the new requirements towards Leadership teams? Do we continue to work remotely, or do we return back to the office?

Since the law of change is the only constant in this universe, we can be certain about the fact that uncertainty will prevail and our attitude in the face of it should be beneficial to our wellbeing.

We will continue to work remotely or at least by having the possibility of a flexible agenda, because it seems that this pandemic has only fostered the mega trend of freelance economy and flexible working schedules.

A good example on how the public system, but also the private economy are struggling to find the right proportion between digital and physical would be with the latest changes in the schooling system, where there is ambiguity about the modus operandi, but in the end it only emphasizes even more the idea that we need to permanently adapt.

Of course, this uncertainty has also an impact on Leadership and we have observed a further shift in its approach. In the past, and especially in Eastern Europe with state owned companies, we used to have a type of Management focused on the directive Leadership style and we all have seen the deficiencies of such style.

Now, the servant Leadership style is taking the stage, putting people into the spotlight of the company, which means that the employees are getting more and more recognized as being the most valuable assets and that managers have to become servant leaders.

The aspiration for the future is in Agile Leadership, a style which sees the organization as a community or a city where you can do what you want as long as you allow the community to benefit from your work.

In conclusion, adjusting Leadership styles has to be put in context and is not an easy process, which is also reflected in the many changes and responses we see around us.