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What’s Your Vision?

By Retained | April 19, 2024

A leader assuming the helm is always asked “what’s your vision?” Likewise, a candidate vying for a leadership position will face the same pivotal question.

If I ever write a book, Chapter 1 would be titled “It’s Not My Vision.” Do you find that odd? Here is my point of view: a leader’s vision should rely heavily on matching stakeholder desires and expectations with realistic short term and midterm capabilities of the staff and support teams. This runs contrary to a new leader waxing poetically as to what he or she are going to do on day one. Granted, if they have been in the industry for years, they have a leg up. Maybe they will get lucky and be right, but I subscribe to the phase “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” This quote is attributed all the way back to Roman philosopher Seneca. New leaders: the opportunity stands before you, but how about preparation?

In January, I took on the role of Managing Partner for Retained. Retained’s work, as most of you know, will be to fill leadership openings in the technology and not-for-profit spaces with exceptional candidates. A key piece to my preparation is to conduct 90 meetings in 90 days with stakeholders. I am going full curiosity-mode. My goal is to learn from CHROs, CEOs, CIOs/CTOs, the Tier4 Group staff, and other stakeholders. The questions I am asking are not static. They are based on the interest and experience of each contributor. Ultimately, I am learning about what Retained will need to deliver to stand out from the crowd. The interviews are not only shaping my vision, but also will contribute to the development of goals, KPIs, hiring decisions, and so forth. An additional benefit is we make friends when we ask people’s opinions in a sincere way.

This is not the first time I have done 90 in 90s. It is a process I have followed for years. In fact, I was a huge underdog to get the job of President and CEO of the Chicago YMCA before age 40. The Chicago YMCA was arguably the largest YMCA system in the world. A unique step I took in preparation for my first interview with a high-powered BOD was to fly out to Chicago a week ahead, on my own dime, and start my 90 in 90 process in advance. Frankly, the Board was blown away and I got the job. When I took on the role of President and CEO at TAG, the organization was crying out for an identity and a direction. The 90 in 90 gave me the credibility to move quickly around some big decisions with the BOD’s full support. If I came in on day one and said, “here is my vision and here is what we are going to do,” the BOD would not have had the confidence to allow me to go forward.


I am now entering month two at Retained. More than 20 one-on-one interviews have been conducted. My process is not close to being over, but I am picking up a number of important and consistent messages. Some things I have heard thus far include:

  • Clients at Tier4 Group believe that the 10 years of success they have had creates trust in Retained.
  • Trust in not only the process, but the people leading the search, is critical.
  • Relationships drive decision making when it comes to selecting a search firm for executive search.
  • Having a focus in place of technologists at the C-suite level is a strong differentiator.
  • Being a women owned company and one of less than ten LGBTBE certified is a game changer.
  • Having capabilities and experience around leadership assessments is a plus.
  • Believing in what we do should be the baseline for any great company, but is it?
  • And we have demonstrated a deep belief that our work matters for ten years, so that’s a great thing.

I don’t like the phrase work/life balance because it diminishes our work part of life. People in other countries believe they work to live and think many in the USA live to work. To me, if you love your work and love to make a difference and have a purpose, then work is an integral part of life. It’s not a separate thing. Anyway, I love my work and believe that what we are doing at Tier4 Group and Retained is making a difference.


Tino Mantella