Developing the brief

Before the board can start work to attract and recruit a new CEO, it must discuss and come to agreement about what the CEO will need to do – in light of the organisation’s future – and the type of CEO that will be right in this situation.

More, specifically, the Board needs to come to an agreement about the following:

  • The organisation
    Succinct statements about the form, scale, powers, authority, functions, limitations, relationships, deliverables, compliance requirements, character and culture.
  • The operating environment
    Succinct statements about the nature of the environment in which the organisation operates, including commentary about recent or impending changes.
  • The organisation life-cycle stage
    Succinct statements about significant recent achievements, challenges and changes, the characteristics that the organisation will need to have in the future (in response, for example, to changes in the operating environment or demands placed on the organisation), and the nature of change required to get from the present to the future state.
  • Key accountabilities for the CEO role
    Succinct statements about the most important things upon which the CEO will have to focus in light of what the organisation needs to achieve in the future.1
  • Key selection criteria for CEO recruitment
    Succinct statements about the most important qualities, knowledge and skills the CEO will need to possess on commencement in the role in light of the organisation, its environment and its future. The key selection criteria will provide the first basis upon which candidate suitability is assessed.
  • What a good ‘fit’ for the CEO will look like:
    Succinct statements about the personality, character traits, reputation, motivation and aspirations the CEO will need to have in light of the organisation, its environment and its future.
  • What will be offered to attract good candidates
    Succinct statements about what the organisation can offer and will appeal to desirable candidates, for example, career opportunities, status, professional development, flexible working arrangements and salary.
  • Other relevant information
    Succinct statements about factors that potential candidates need to know, including information about the physical location of the role, requirement for travel, usual work hours and any particular employment initiatives that provide the basis for encouraging candidates from particular demographics to apply.

A template is provided at Appendix A to help document Board agreements and to use in briefing the executive search consultant, the selection panel and candidates.


  1. For a detailed outline of the CEO’s accountabilities see Serving Victoria: A guide for public sector CEOs (State Government of Victoria, 2011).