The Wisdom of CEOs

Booz & Company recently published its 12th annual CEO Succession Survey. It’s fascinating reading:

  • As the economy gets stronger, the numbers of CEOs leaving their jobs are rising to pre-recession rates
  • CEO turnover is highest at the largest companies
  • CEO turnover is highest in market sectors that face the most challenges
  • Outsider CEOs returned to historical averages
  • Insider CEOs bring higher returns
  • Insider CEOs serve longer
  • The combined chairman-CEO model continues to decline

With average CEO tenure declining, the survey’s data are clear that new CEOs – whether they come from the inside or the outside – are under historically high pressure to perform quickly.  (Can you say Leo Apotheker?)  And concerned boards are more frequently appointing the outgoing CEO as board chairman to provide a sort of “apprenticeship” experience in the early months of a new CEO’s tenure.  Interesting stuff.

This year, the study focused on the new CEO’s first year.  Booz & Co. interviewed a number of CEOs from around the world and asked their advice for incoming CEOs.  There were 7 common recommendations:

  1. Deal with the obvious executive team changes as early as possible
  2. Be wary of changing strategy too quickly, even if you think the current strategy is wrong
  3. Make sure you understand how every part of the company operates and how it is performing
  4. Build trust though transparency
  5. Be selective in listening to advice
  6. Find a sparring partner with whom you can discuss plans openly
  7. Manage your time and your personal life with care

The survey provides a great deal of background data and commentary on these 7 “tips” for succeeding as a new CEO — and I encourage you read it.  But I’m thinking this is great advice for any new executive at any level.

And I’m really thinking this list is great coaching for HR.

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6 Comments

Filed under Booz & Company, Business Success, C-suite, CEO Tenure, CEOs, China Gorman

6 responses to “The Wisdom of CEOs

  1. A lot of these lessons are echoed in my company’s weekly executive chair interviews we do with Atlantic Canadian business leaders – http://www.bluteaudevenney.com/table/the-executive-chair/
    Interesting that there are eternal truths that we keep going back to no matter the size of the company, the age of the company or the nature of the leadership title.

  2. A great article with some good recommendations – trust through transparency is so important!

  3. Justin McKinney

    Love your thoughts on this subject, China!

  4. Love this article. Great meat. I found these three bullet points interesting:
    – Insider CEOs bring higher returns
    – Insider CEOs serve longer
    – The combined chairman-CEO model continues to decline
    In this economy, it’s interesting to see where things are headed…back to what works!

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