If you were asked today to identify your successor, would a name immediately come to mind? If you’re like most of the CEOs I know, the choices aren’t so obvious. Finding the right mix of talent, experience and sheer determination seems to be difficult with today’s workforce. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
The greatest challenge that I’ve found in assisting CEO and boards to select future CEOs and executives for their succession planning is in increasing awareness of the need for a change in the historically familiar CEO persona.
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Historical Characteristics of CEOs
Consider for example that the characteristics of CEOs historically have included the following:
- Extensive and relevant experience (often industry related)
- Drive and determination that is often results focused, not people focused
- An acute awareness of the approaches necessary to grow the business
- A candidate that has a strong network of other senior executives for possible future recruitment
This may have seemed like a great persona for CEOs in the past, but dramatic shifts in critical business areas such as Marketing, Selling, Technology and Employee Engagement and Productivity have changed the landscape.
In addition, candidates who have extensive experience (i.e. more than a decade) in a specific industry are getting harder and harder to come by, mostly on the account of a greater tendency for employees to leap frog companies and careers during the last two decades.
For those of you currently engaged in succession planning, the following are the list of attributes I tell my clients they should be seeking:
- A visionary with a laser focus on the future state of the industry, rather then experienced based on history.
- Experience in selecting and building stronger and more empowered individuals and teams.
- Extensive knowledge and understanding of how technology can be applied in today’s marketing
- A customer centric focus (versus profit centric). Counter intuitively the greater your focus on customers, the more profit you will incur.
When selecting a future CEO successor, consider shifting your views. Instead of looking at relevant and important characteristics from those that have been historically popular, look for characteristics that will be critical for success in the coming decades.
© Shawn Casemore 2015. All rights reserved.
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