Mayoral vs. CEO Transitions
There has been discussion recently about new Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration ceremony this week and its treatment of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who was in the audience. The discussion centers on whether it was right for several de Blasio speakers to openly criticize former Mayor Bloomberg for his tenure and accomplishments. As The New York Times wrote in its editorial, “Mr. Bloomberg had his mistakes and failures, but he was not a cartoon Gilded Age villain. He deserved better than pointless and tacky haranguing from speakers eager to parrot Mr. de Blasio’s campaign theme.”
Politics may not be the best model for CEO transitions. When we advise CEOs on their transitions, we counsel them about respecting the prior office holder because transitions often bring unwanted uncertainty to employees, customers, investors and other significant stakeholders. The objective of a transition between CEOs — for outgoing and incoming ones — is to reduce uncertainty and maximize continuity and confidence in the future. It is important that careful planning and strategic forethought consider what messages are sent and what messengers are employed. Communicating stability is paramount.
It will be interesting to see whether the inauguration of the new Mayor set the tone for the months ahead. Perception is reality often times.