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How Do You Transition to a New CEO? Four Strategies

Situation: A company founder was advised by her Board to help them hire a CEO with more experience to run the company. This new CEO is now in place. As the founder gains more experience, the Board has indicated its willing to consider her as CEO. How do you transition to a new CEO?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Become the fire hose! Build a tight relationship with the new CEO and together build the future strategy that will enable you both to win.
    • Others will focus on past issues. Keep your approach and advice positive. Position yourself as a partner, not an adversary. Emphasize your supportive and collaborative capacities.
    • Become the new CEO’s go-to person: trustworthy, objective, knowledgeable, reliable. Nurture the development of chemistry with the new CEO.
    • When the new CEO asks what needs to be done, produce the plan. Leverage your knowledge and expertise to become his greatest resource.
  • Enlist the CEO’s support of one or more of the focused strategies that are already in play within the company. Build the support of the Board and focus on boosting company value to 2x sales. The Board won’t forget who produced the original initiatives.
  • You have more power than you imagine – both with the Board and the new CEO – due to your knowledge of the marketplace and the business. Use it wisely.
    • While there is a new CEO, the company has already been profitable and company operations are clean. The Board will remember this.
  • How do you boost the chances to eventually be named CEO by the Board?
    • Tie yourself very closely to the new CEO – be this person’s more important resource. Build and cement your position as his most important ally within the company. It will help you to gain his support for implementing your ideas.
    • Segue your relationship with the Board members to become the company’s next CEO.
    • At the same time, grow your successor within the company so that you will be ready to move up to CEO when the opportunity arises.