Tag Archives: CEO succession

Who Won the CEO Sweepstakes — Yahoo or Google? Why Losing Superstars Makes You Stronger

Marissa Mayer

Yesterday Yahoo announced the appointment of Google’s Marissa Mayer to the post of CEO. She will be Yahoo’s fifth CEO in the last 12 months. Most folks are saying that Yahoo may have finally got it right this time. Here is a question most people aren’t asking: “Why did Marissa Mayer leave Google?”

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Five Essential Questions for Getting CEO Succession Right (#5)

This post is the final installment of a five-part series on best practices in CEO succession. The purpose of the series is to share some of the insights I’ve gained while helping companies manage the messy, sometimes confusing terrain of CEO succession.

passing the baton

Question 5: When Should Planning Begin, and What Time Horizon Should Be Considered?

As I mentioned before, succession planning should be an ongoing process. For firms that don’t have a planning process in place, starting tomorrow is not too soon. A CEO transition is among the most significant, broad-reaching changes for any organization. This sort of change has an effect on every constituent (customers, employees, board members, shareholders, etc.). As such, the potential for error is large and the consequences can be significant. So get out your scout hat and be prepared. Start NOW.

But what time horizon makes sense?

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Five Essential Questions for Getting CEO Succession Right (#4)

This post is the fourth of a five-part series on best practices in CEO succession. The purpose of the series is to share some of the insights I’ve gained while helping companies manage the messy, sometimes confusing terrain of CEO succession.

passing the baton

Question 4: How Transparent is the Succession Process?

With CEO succession—as in most aspects of life—transparency is very important. The tricky part is how soon to be transparent about which information. For example, I am working with a client whose board members found out their CEO was leaving one hour before a shareholder meeting. Technically, this is information the shareholders should know, but one hour was clearly not enough time to communicate with the entire board, make all the decisions necessary, and then craft a clear, confident message.

The responsible course of action was to wait, formulate a plan, and then share it publicly. In this case it took almost a week, in some cases it could be faster.

100% real time transparency is not needed, but it is important to be as transparent as possible. What kinds of things should be transparent?

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Five Essential Questions for Getting CEO Succession Right (#3)

This post is the third of a five-part series on best practices in CEO succession. The purpose of the series is to share some of the insights I’ve gained while helping companies manage the messy, sometimes confusing terrain of CEO succession.

passing the baton

Question 3: What Criteria Should Be Used to Select a CEO?

If you could create a list of the top 10 CEOs in the last decade, my guess is they would seem to have very little in common. There is no magic list of competencies, personality traits, or characteristics that can be used to separate the winners from the losers. (But you know me, I like a challenge. I made a list anyway.)

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Five Essential Questions for Getting CEO Succession Right (#2)

This post is the second of a five-part series on best practices in CEO succession. The purpose of the series is to share some of the insights I’ve gained while helping companies manage the messy, sometimes confusing terrain of CEO succession. My role in the process is first to provide an outside perspective for boards and CEOs on their most talented leaders. Then I help them navigate the transition to the greatest benefit of the company and the individuals involved. Leadership transitions at the top are complex and can get personal, but they also provide a rare opportunity for companies to make a huge difference in their bottom line (in both directions!). Here’s the second question you should ask when trying to get it right.  

passing the baton

Question 2: Are Internal Candidates Better than External Candidates? Continue reading

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Five Essential Questions for Getting CEO Succession Right (#1)

In my last post, I introduced a five-part series on best practices in CEO succession. This post is the first of the five, and it focuses on the most basic, often perplexing question: “Who owns it?” If you didn’t see the first post, I recommend reading it. The purpose of the series is to share some of the insights I’ve gained while helping companies manage the messy, sometimes confusing terrain of CEO succession. My role in the process is first to provide an outside perspective for boards and CEOs on their most talented leaders. Then I help them navigate the transition to the greatest benefit of the company and the individuals involved. Leadership transitions at the top are complex and can get personal, but they also provide a rare opportunity for companies to make a huge difference in their bottom line (in both directions!). Here’s the first question you should ask when trying to get it right.

passing the baton

Question 1: Who Owns CEO Succession?

No one owns the entire process. When it’s done well, the roles of the board and the CEO are distinct, interlocking on just a few key steps. The board owns the decision about who the next CEO will be, but the CEO is responsible for providing valid assessments of internal candidates, and developing those candidates as leaders so the directors have good options. Here’s what the sequence might look like:

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Succeeding at CEO Succession

Should she stay or should she go? Transitioning from one CEO to another is a task few companies do well and yet it is a decision for which the stakes could not be higher.

Chief Executive Officer is one of the few jobs that can make or break a company. Recent examples at Netflix, Hewlett Packard, and Apple illustrate the challenges and the consequences of good and bad transitions at the top. Should the Netflix board have replaced Reed Hastings when his pricing change blunders caused the stock to drop 75%? How could the HP board have made a better choice when replacing Carly Fiorina (or Mark Hurd for that matter)? Will Apple’s careful planning for the replacement of Steve Jobs pay off? Continue reading

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