Normally, the French presidential election isn’t the focus of, literally, the entire political world.
However, after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the United States, we can definitively say these are not normal times.
Emmanuel Macron’s resounding victory showed that while voters are excited about something new—his party En Marche! is just a year old and is focused on working with both the left and right—the overwhelming majority of French citizens want a progressive leader, new perspectives, a hopeful outlook, and more than anything, a belief in a better future.
Macron’s victory also has lessons for both recruiters and executives. In a forthcoming post, I will talk about the lessons for executives.
In this post, I will focus on three major lessons recruiters can take from the election:
1. Don’t let youth stop you from hiring the right candidate.
At 39, Emmanuel Macron is the youngest current leader of a major nation. To give some perspective, he was born just two years before Barack Obama started college.
Macron is, without a doubt, young for his job. But being young isn’t the same thing as being unqualified. Macron has extensive experience as a political leader, having served as France’s Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs prior to running for President.
When you’re hiring for a leadership position, look at the type of experience a candidate has, rather than focusing on age. Youthful leaders can bring a fresh perspective, as Macron clearly did with his first major hire, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe—who comes from the opposite side of the political spectrum.
Recruiting is about the future, and not the past. It’s about potential, and what your company can achieve in the future. The saying “past performance is no guarantee of future success” is proven statistically, time over time.
Keep that in mind when recruiting your next leader.
2. Selecting the right person can bring a lot of enthusiasm to stakeholders.
His decision to select a Prime Minister from the center-right Republicans is just one example of why the French—and much of Europe—are excited about Macron’s victory. In recent years France has experienced economic challenges and multiple terrorist attacks, yet Macron’s election has clearly brought new hope about the country’s future.
Just like in politics, in business a new leader may bring the enthusiasm and inspiration your company needs. Your business faces disruption from new technology, changing customer preferences, and a variety of other challenges. Those challenges—like France’s—are conquerable, but you’ll need leadership that has fresh perspectives and embraces the opportunity to do big things.
While one person certainly can’t solve every problem, the right leader can engage his or her team in collectively creating a brighter future.
3. Globalism is here to stay—and you need executives who are comfortable working with multi-culturalism and diversity.
Having executives who are comfortable in multi-cultural, diverse environments is important. Clearly, Macron was the candidate who was most comfortable with multi-culturalism and diversity, and French voters understood that and voted for a leader who knows that succeeding in the future means being able to build relationships with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Successful leaders of big organizations—be they governments or companies—will need to understand that diversity and multiculturalism are strengths, not weaknesses. You need to recruit executives who value diversity not because they are told to, but because they truly believe building a team of people with a wider range of experiences make your company stronger.
The way forward for companies and countries is understanding that the 21st century requires embracing an open world and elevating inspirational leaders with fresh perspectives.
As a recruiter, look for the same skillsets in candidates and your clients will be well served.
Pierre Collowald is a Senior Partner at Robertson Associates, a European Executive Search and Leadership Solutions leader. Pierre is working out of Brussels, Paris and Zurich. firstname.lastname@example.org