A Blueprint for Entering CEOs

CEO transitions into organizations are not easy. How long CEOs last and the frequency with which their own, and their Board’s, expectations are met have been studied in academia and well reported in the media. The results are stunning.

Two out of five incoming CEOs fail to meet their objectives in the first 18 months. Even those who make it past 18 months now have an average tenure of 7.6 years, down from 9.5 in 1995. The outlook is even bleaker for outside CEO hires, who take twice as long to ramp up as those promoted from within. Only one in five CEOs hired from outside are considered high performers at the end of their first year by their boards and nearly half leave within 18 months (reference: Harvard Business Review, 2014).

CEO failure may have less to do with competence, knowledge, or experience than with how CEO transitions are orchestrated and whether key support steps are missed. While not a guarantee, a programmatic approach to new executive transition can increase the odds and shorten the time-frame in which success is likely to be achieved.

Four goals, detailed in a previous IntelliVen post, guide the approach. Though they are simple to understand, the goals are not easy to achieve. Expert third-party facilitation, an authorizing environment committed to success, and previous experience, diligence, and focus go a long way towards improving the odds.

As reported in a recently published Memo to Incoming CEOs, by Daniel Forrester, CEO of THRUUE, a management consulting firm that helps top leaders and their boards set and achieve inspirational goals, the four goals are to:

Memo To CEO

    Click for full memo text.


  • Raise the incumbent leadership team’s individual and collective conscious as to what the entering executive seeks to accomplish and her/his definition of success for the first six months, first year, and beyond.
  • Turn incumbent executives from observers to stakeholders so that their energy, wisdom, insights, and ideas are channeled constructively and contribute to (rather than evaluate) success.
  • Accelerate the entering executive’s learning curve and integration into the organization’s leadership network.
  • Promote interest in and commitment to the entering executive and her/his vision for the organization’s future.

See the full text of Forrester’s Memo to CEOs for an elaboration on the four-part framework to guide leaders, and those who hire and support them, to increase the probability of a successful transition based on what THRUUE has learned from working with dozens of CEOs in transition. The Memo to CEOs is also accessible as an IntelliVen Insight.

About Daniel Forrester

Daniel Forrester, founder and CEO of THRUUE Inc., is an author, speaker, and strategist with more than twenty years of top-level management consulting experience. He helps for-profit and not-for-profit organizations reimagine their mission and redesign their company culture to be greater than the sum of their parts. He also helps executives to slow down to think, reflect, and get the big ideas right. Daniel is known for data-rich and highly productive, generative dialogues that lead to profound insights.

See Also

How a new executive earns respect.

How entering executives increase success odds.

IntelliVen Insights


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