How can recruiters help leaders focus on strategy?

When you think of Intel, you most likely think of the its dominance in the microprocessor industry. Most of us have forgotten how Intel broke into the market depending primarily on the production of its memory chips. This shift in product strategy altered the brand, making Intel a household name. What was the one question that helps leaders focus on strategy?

As the story goes, CEO Andrew Grove and company leader Gordon Moore were facing a rapidly changing landscape in the technology industry and global competition. They realized they could no longer churn out the same products and services and survive. According to the Wall Street Journal, Groves and Moore asked themselves one question helps leaders focus on strategy.

Groves: “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do?” Mr. Moore answered that a new CEO would get Intel out of the memory-chip business. “Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back and do it ourselves?” Mr. Grove retorted. He then did just that, reshaping Intel from a memory-chip producer to a microprocessor maker.

Recruiters can help leaders focus on strategy with one question: If you were to be replaced, what would your replacement do be successful?

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

The Leadership Conundrum

Leaders are often bombarded with information to process and decisions to make. The noise around them can prevent them from focusing on strategy causing the business to struggle. The value recruiting consultants can bring is clarity through asking this question.

Another aspect of the leadership conundrum involves the difficulty associated with changing course. I have found even when leaders I’ve consulted answered the question, they struggled with committing to action. The idea of changing course seems like admitting defeat or can be so complicated, it exhausts the leader.

How recruiters can help leaders focus on strategy

When you find your client struggling to focus on strategy, help them refocus by asking the question. Step back and allow them time to process the question. You may even help by conducting a brainstorming session with them, allowing the client leader to hash their ideas out. As the recruiting pro, you’ll have to not only be the coach but also the manager to help your client make the right move.

Once you feel the session has produced a feasible strategy, urge the leader to think next through implementation/execution. Play devil’s advocate to push the leader to consider all aspects. Identify the objections and obstacles but also help find ways to overcome them. This is where many recruiters fail. The only identify the risk but fail to help their clients work through them.

Remember, if this is the strategy to help the business succeed, you are just as vested in its success as the manager. This is a great way to prove your value to your client and will strengthen your relationship with them.


Sometimes we are tasked to help leaders get out of their own head. This one question helps leaders focus on strategy and less on the noise around them.

Just imagine if Groves and Moore had not asked themselves this question. Would Intel have suffered the same fate as Kodak, Blockbuster and other who were unwilling to focus on the right strategy to succeed.

Do you have a “Silver Bullet” Question you ask your client leaders to help them focus on strategy? If so, I’d love to hear it!

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Published by Trent Cotton

I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. My passion to lead, innovate and engage the HR industry. I use my blog at NakedHR.me to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics. I currently write for NakedHR.me and SprintRecruiting.com. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive. Connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/trentcotton or on Twitter @TrentCotton.

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