Selecting the RIGHT Service Leader to accelerate growth

When selecting leadership talent, we are constantly helping our clients with what does ‘right’ mean – it starts with understanding that you should be hiring for tomorrow and thus the current context may be critical, however delivering your future growth is the goal when hiring a Service Leader. Due to the need to accelerate growth this often means that when we consider the build (internal hire), borrow (outsource) or buy (hire) options, we have to go external, to bring in a talent that previously delivered in our desired context, as we generally don’t have time to grow someone in a Leadership role – hiring an experienced Service Leader with demonstrated successful leadership will increase your chance of reaching your aspiration – the past predicts the future in hiring often.

When we hire externally, the hiring challenge is to ensure that we find the ‘right’ level of Service Leader, capable (can), motivated (will) and a good match (fit) with our customers and organisational context. Capable to deliver the immediate business opportunities and with the ability to lead the organisation to the future business.

We share an example below of how you might progress and what to look for.

Example – Service Leader required for a medium sized business with a 5-year ambition to move the business to the desired ambition.

To secure best possible match of candidate with your vacancy, a thorough and stepwise approach is advisable. Below we take you through the different steps that we see as critical and complementary to your overall recruitment process.


Before any recruitment activities can commence it is important to take stock and seek full understanding of your current (baseline) Service maturity level. In other words, from a Services perspective, what is your ability to define and translate your clients’ business opportunities and needs as well as developing and executing a strategy able to meet these needs.

As can be seen in figure 1(maturity staircase) we suggest looking at Service maturity in different steps, ranging from mainly product focused (step 1) to mainly service focused (step 4).

Within the machine manufacturing industry, most companies have built their success and their brand on hardware or so-called tangible products. Services have been gradually introduced, initially supporting these products to operate as intended, towards complementing or even replacing the product as a standalone offering. Progressively positioning all products and services into a collective offering or as sometimes termed, solutions (to a customer need).

We consider the different steps of Service maturity a continuous evolution from Product orientation to Service orientation with the following high-level definitions:

  • Step 1 – Product lifecycle – Ensure proper functioning of machines
  • Step 2 – Product performance – Optimize asset performance throughout its lifecycle
  • Step 3 – Process support – Assist customers improving their own processes
  • Step 4 – Process outsourcing – Perform processes on behalf of customers aimed at achieving mutually agreed output


Based on above baseline, describe how you would like the Service maturity to evolve (ambition) in your company in order to capture identified opportunities e.g. you would like to move from one level to another to improve competitiveness. Important to keep in mind is, these steps are not to be seen as good, better and best but instead a way of defining the scope of your focus with your clients and more importantly as a way of aligning your capabilities with your clients’ expectations and potential, as well as your identified business opportunities. Each step carries a specific set of capabilities and as the aim is to adapt these capabilities to the overall ambition, taking a long-term perspective is recommended when deciding what step to choose and within what time frame you need to reach your goals.


Once a good understanding of your baseline and ambition exists, a deeper look into the different types of capabilities can be very helpful when identifying the different positions, roles and skills you require to manage this transformation. To support this deep-dive, we recommend starting to build a framework of key Service leader capabilities / accountabilities. We have identified 17, that collectively represent the majority of activities performed in a Service organisation and for the sake of better communication we prefer to group them under four main focus areas (figure 2):

Figure 2 (17 Service leader capabilities/accountabilities)


Figure 3 (Service focus areas)


Figure 4 (Service focus areas)

Discussing our example of trying to find a Service leader that can deliver your mission, above figures (3 & 4) can symbolise the transformation journey. Figure 3 and 4 illustrate an example of a shift in focus of an organisation very much concentrated on execution and operational support with minimum focus on (pro)active selling and with limited attention to new developments and continuous improvement. This can give an interesting perspective on the different roles you are trying to acquire but above all on the Service leader you are appointing to drive this change. The output of this work is a comprehensive and forward-looking job description that takes into consideration necessary types of context and provides you with best possible platform for starting your candidate search.


The correlation between a complete job profile and a group of candidates is the ability to compare or match the two in an unbiased and fact-based approach. To objectively motivate the reasons behind any decision in terms of filtering the group of candidates to a shortlist and ultimately the final candidate, is the best way to build trust between the recruiter and the company.

The most effective way to do this is to be consistent throughout the process in the way you specify, source, screen and select your candidates. This ultimately means that your entire recruiting process hinges on the way you initially describe (specify) the profile of the position you are trying to fill with your ability to match (screen) this description with the different candidates. This could be a daunting task as it ideally includes a detailed description of all job accountabilities, a list of all leadership skills and competencies required as well as a summary of individual specifics of a candidate and consequently a practical and comprehensive way of matching it all.

Why not leave the nitty-gritty and the dirty work to us, to do what we do best – sourcing tomorrow’s Service leadership.

What success looks like

In the sample attached is an example of a candidate that has lived and breathed level 3 & 4 Service maturity and whose next career goal is to contribute to a company’s ambition to reach this level.

Dag Grönevik

Founder and Partner Service Leaders Matters

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Service Leaders Matters partners with B2B businesses to assess and acquire top service leadership talent to drive breakthrough performance.