Excellence as a Habit: Embedding Quality and Care in JMA

Excellence as a Habit: Embedding Quality and Care in JMA

19 Mar 24 4mins Jon Midmer


We’re what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant

For a business to succeed, it needs to be at least as good as – and ideally better than – its competition. As the leader of JMA, it should come as no surprise, then, that I regularly ask myself how we can go toe to toe with more established incumbents, in an industry in which the production method is more or less standard.

Values – in our case Quality, Trust and Care – play a part, for sure, but lofty ideals alone don’t translate to success. Without delivering consistent quality, demonstrating high levels of care, or creating bonds of trust, we won’t build the reputation we need to keep clients coming back for more.


The main thing clients look to us for is the ability to give them nothing but outstanding leaders who go on to make a positive impact on their businesses.

We won’t give away all our trade secrets (and particularly not our in-depth, multi-stage briefing and delivery process), but we aim to deliver the highest quality, most diverse shortlists by:

  • Hiring, training and developing the very best team we can
  • Working consistently hard to understand the industries and functions we work in inside out
  • Investing time, effort and energy to understand what our clients do, how they do it, their values and culture, and what makes people successful there
  • Fully embracing and meeting our clients’ bar on talent, however high that may be
  • Spending the time and effort to come up with a really great job description that talks compellingly about our client’s organisation and culture, and ‘sells the dream’
  • Partners personally interviewing and presenting every candidate


The second, and perhaps less obvious, client need can best be summed up by a Chair of a global apparel company, who confided to me that when he worked with one of the most respected global search firms to find a new CEO it felt as if: “They didn’t invest the time and effort to truly get to know our business, and hurried through weekly update calls, on which it became clear that the Partner leading the search hadn’t even spoken to the candidates after their interviews with me – that was left to a Researcher. Basically, they were going through the motions and didn’t really care.”

As someone who’s passionate about providing clients and candidates with a great process, I’d be horrified if one of our clients thought we didn’t care, however the search was going. We demonstrate care by:

  • Doing everything we can to talk about our clients’ businesses with as much knowledge and passion as clients themselves (which, as one client recently told us, enables us to bring candidates to the table that we otherwise couldn’t if we were less informed)
  • Partners briefing every candidate before every interview, and debriefing every candidate after every interview
  • Providing candidates with strategic career advice, being straight with them and helping them to weigh up if they will be well served by moving to a certain client in a certain role at this point in their career
  • Showing commitment to clients and candidates, year in, year out, in good times and bad, so they know we’re true, long-term partners
  • Demonstrating a commitment to always delivering a diverse candidate slate
  • Taking clients’ and candidate’s calls at any time of day or night and always working around them
  • The default answer to any request being yes, and actioning requests as quickly and comprehensively as possible
  • Always going the extra mile to deliver the best result for all parties


The output of caring, quality delivery is, hopefully, trust – the basis for repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendation, which account for 100% of our business. We also strive to build trust by:

  • Always being honest and upfront with clients
  • Turning away work when we don’t believe we’re the best partner
  • Appropriately challenging clients and candidates, while always being on their side
  • Ensuring a constant flow of information
  • Sticking to our agreed timelines and ensuring search updates go out as regular as clockwork
  • Turning up to meetings and calling people on time, every time

Doing all the above, day in, day out, requires discipline and a belief that by doing things ‘the JMA way’ we’re making a positive difference in our clients’ and candidates’ lives. We believe that it’s only by striving for habitual excellence and caring as much about how we arrive at the result as the result itself, that we can build the business we aspire to be.