Surviving New CEOs

June 02, 2007

Surviving New CEOs

Harvard Business Review has a terrific article on best strategies for keeping your job when a new CEO arrives on the scene (May 2007). Surviving Your New CEO was written by Kevin Coyne and Edward Coyne (I guess they are related!). What’s striking is that when a new chief executive takes charge, the chances are high that executives will be packing their bags sooner than later. Most exiting executives find themselves leaving for lower-rung jobs elsewhere, jobs in smaller companies or at home on retirement leave. The choices are not pretty.

Here are some of the more startling facts:

1. When there is no CEO change, the average executive turnover is 15%.
2. When there is a new CEO from within the organization, the average executive turnover is 17%.
3. When there is a new CEO from outside the organization, the average executive turnover jumps to 25%.

Those young whipper snapper execs who think they stand a better chance of surviving a new CEO compared to their gray hair colleagues are wrong. Those under 52 years old are as likely as those over 52 years of age to get the boot. Ouch.
So how do you survive the changing of the guard at the top? Here is their advice: 1) Show your goodwill, leave your baggage at the door, study the CEO’s working style, present a realistic game plan, be at the top of your game, and offer objective options. Makes sense.

Another fact that I liked learning from their article was that CEOs don’t waste time picking their keepers and goners. It takes CEOs on average 60 days to decide who will make the “A” team and who will be shown the door. First impressions count. Ouch again.

This is a terrifically insightful article. Since CEO turnover is so high today, everyone needs this advice on what to do when a new captain of industry arrives in town.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

  • steven cody
    Posted at 16:20h, 06 June Reply

    This is a really informative piece. What sets it apart from the average CEO-type article is its quantifying the impact a new “sheriff’s” arrival has on the executive level, especially when the new top dog comes from outside the organization. I’d love to see a companion piece that also tracks the emotional side of the equation. Does fear run rampant? Or do most executives feel quietly confident in their ability to survive, if not, thrive?

  • LGR
    Posted at 01:06h, 27 June Reply

    That is a good point. I wonder how long it takes for the confidence level to decline and signals are clear that its time to exit.

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