I've been reading through some research papers and magazine articles today, motivated by Xero's active approach to succession in the boardroom (see previous post). I wanted to find out how the related task of CEO succession is managed by boards. My two word conclusion from today's reading: not well.
A recent Stanford research survey provides insight. Half of the directors surveyed by the Stanford researcher said that a CEO successor was being groomed. That sounds good, but what about the other half? Over the years, I've asked a lot of directors to list the important tasks of the board. Most say that hiring the right CEO is towards the top of the list, yet the Stanford survey reveals that half don't follow through with an adequate succession plan.
You would think that all boards would have a solid CEO succession plan, particularly as they carry overall responsibility for company performance, and strong leadership is crucial to strategy execution and company performance outcomes. I'm not sure why some boards overlook this important task. Are they too busy with other more pressing matters? Or are they too lazy? Or have they not thought about it? Perhaps shareholders can help, by asking questions at annual meetings to encourage boards to take CEO succession more seriously than many do now. I'm sure the payback to such enquiries will be palpable.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.