Finding firm

Jim Harmon knows a thing or two about effective leadership within technology companies, particularly smaller, private firms that are just starting out. A managing partner with Ottawa-based Ray & Berndtson, one of Canada’s largest executive search firms, Harmon has been assembling a list of some of the most frequent and damaging mistakes tech firms make when making the all-important choice of hiring a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Harmon shared his thoughts on the topic yesterday with Network World Canada Editor Greg Enright.

Greg Enright: What would you say is the most common mistake technology firms make when hiring CEOs?

Jim Harmon: In the early stages, in seed-round companies, there’s a mistaken belief, particularly on the part of inexperienced board members, that leadership is leadership and the context (of the firm’s business) isn’t all that important….At the early stage, you want to mitigate risk in any way you can; bringing in someone who has little or zero learning curve in a particular [industry] is key.

GE: So it’s good that the CEO knows something about technology, for instance?

JH: I think so. If you think about a team sitting around a white board talking about product positioning vis

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