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Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS THE ONE OUTSTANDING QUALITY OF YOUR SEARCH FIRM?
The firm is comprised of twelve savvy, informed, and highly successful former heads of schools located geographically and strategically all over the country. We are proven leaders in the field, both nationally and internationally, and we bring knowledge and depth to the search process that only those who have experienced the work can impart. We believe that this gives us a unique ability to help a school analyze its needs and clarify the key leadership skills required to meet its strategic challenges.
DESCRIBE YOUR PROCESS.
Each school has a unique set of circumstances that require thoughtful planning about the appropriate process.  We pay close attention to the culture of the school community, to its tolerance and expectations for confidentiality and openness in a search, to faculty/staff morale around the search, and to the circumstances that created the need for a search. Based on those factors we recommend a process and timeline that fits each particular school. Other variables may include the composition of the search committee, timing and exposure of final candidates to the school community at large, and the confidentiality required by most sitting heads of school that may be applying.
HOW WILL RG175 RECRUIT CANDIDATES?
We are active recruiters and do not rely solely on passive advertising or listings. We have an extensive network of contacts and use this network to develop a robust candidate pool. As strong candidates emerge in searches, we add them to our database and update that list on a continuous basis. A candidate who is not right for one school may be an excellent fit for a different kind of school or region of the country. We vet candidates extensively at the top of the candidate funnel to ensure that search committees are considering applicants who have a baseline of leadership skills. As the search committees narrow the field, they can then focus on candidates whose leadership strengths align with the challenges the school faces.

Although our firm places greater emphasis on direct recruiting, we advertise the position through various outlets including email blasts that reach approximately 1600 current heads, aspiring heads, and state and regional association directors.  

Finally, the position statement we write for each school serves as a powerful recruitment tool. Highlighting the school’s strengths and illustrating these strengths through words and photographs, this statement serves to promote interest in the school and the position and provides a basis for initial conversations about the school’s strengths and opportunities.  
HOW WILL RG175 CONSULTANTS GET TO KNOW THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND OUR UNIQUE NEEDS?
We will spend two full days—more if necessary—on your campus, interviewing key stakeholders, including trustees, administrators, faculty, parents, students, and alumni. Before our visit we study critical information like budgets, accreditation reports, admission statistics, curriculum guides, fundraising statistics, next-school placement, diversity statistics, and more to gain a deeper understanding of the school’s assets and challenges. This vital information combined with the findings from our visit allow us to uncover critical themes that we then present to the search committee for review before writing the position statement. Typically, a small group of search committee members approve the position statement before publication.
WHAT ROLE DOES SCHOOL CULTURE PLAY IN THE SEARCH PROCESS?
A poor cultural fit is often the cause of a failed headship. Although it is important for a search committee to identify the critical leadership strengths needed in the next head of school, it is equally important that it assess a candidate’s cultural fit. Our consultants guide a search committee to think deeply about a candidate’s leadership style and how it might align with the culture of the school. By tapping evidence from interviews, references, and numerous conversations with candidates, we can provide search committees the information they need to ensure a proper cultural fit.
WHAT COMPRISES A GOOD SEARCH COMMITTEE?
Search committee composition varies from school to school, depending on the size, grade levels served, and the culture, complexity and current state of the institution. Search committee members should be recognized board and school leaders. Although they may provide perspective as a result of their particular roles at the school, they should not be “representing” a certain constituency. Good judgment, the ability to work with others, time availability, and the discipline to maintain confidentiality are key attributes of effective search committee members.
WHEN SHOULD A SCHOOL SELECT AN INTERIM HEAD RATHER THAN UNDERTAKING A SEARCH FOR A PERMANENT HEAD?
There are times when an interim head could be beneficial to a school, especially when there is a sudden or untimely departure of the head. Schools may want to consider an interim head if they feel there is insufficient time to conduct a thorough search. A school may feel that it needs to make significant and difficult changes to critical aspects of the school such as personnel or programs. An interim head in this circumstance will be a change agent who by definition has a brief tenure. In all cases, schools should expect interims to address a set of short term goals that will help the school continue to develop and move forward. RG175 consultants have extensive experience working with and identifying interim candidates.
HOW DOES RG175 HANDLE INTERNAL CANDIDATES IN A SEARCH?
We listen very carefully in the Discovery Phase of the search process to determine if any internal administrators may emerge as viable candidates.  We strategize with the search committee to develop an approach for internal candidates, mindful that their candidacies must be handled in a sensitive manner out of respect not only for the individuals but also for the credibility of the process.
HOW DOES THE FIRM MAKE SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS TO OUR PARTNERS?
The managing partner, in consultation with others in the firm, makes assignments. Factors taken into consideration include: geography, size, and type of school that matches partner experiences and personal connections that partners may have with a specific school.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON PROBLEMS THAT CAN LEAD A SEARCH TO GO WRONG?
Resource Group 175 consultant Tom Olverson has written extensively about the stumbling blocks in a head of school search. In particular he details the unintentional disregard of evidence to support the search committee’s decision:

Absent the hard work, discipline and rigor of amassing evidence that demonstrates that a candidate has the attributes that the search committee identified as critical for the next head to possess, the search committee instead asks itself the easy question: “Do we like this candidate?”

In addition, Olverson details the failure of search committees to delineate the three or four major challenges facing the school over the next five to ten years as critical criteria for evaluating each candidate. By setting their sights on a more distant future, search committees inevitably become more strategic, leading to better decisions. RG 175 co-founder Clay Stites states, “Search Committees typically become more conservative at the end of the process. They focus on the short-term appearance of the selection instead of the long-term impact. It’s an easy trap to fall into.”
HOW DOES RG175 COMMUNICATE WITH NON-FINALISTS?
We will handle all communication with candidates until finalists are named, at which time the chair of the search committee begins to communicate with candidates about the logistics and timing of the visit as well as other matters. Typically the board president will inform unsuccessful finalists that they have not been selected.
HOW DOES RG175 DEFINE SUCCESS?
“Has the head added value to the school?” This is the key question in determining the success of a search. Each school will have different criteria for answering the question. For some it may be establishing the foundation for future success- in essence, creating capacity. For others it may be helping the school do a better job of fulfilling its mission. And for still others it may be extending its already significant impact. Our firm believes that for schools to flourish their boards must 1) be strategic and 2) find heads who will add value. What the latter looks like depends on the school and its particular circumstances.