Quick Start Instructions for the First-Time CEO

Assuming the top leadership role in an organization is a life-changing experience filled with emotions ranging from exhilaration to a feeling of isolation. Whether you are a founder who just launched your own company, a Fortune 100 CEO, or somewhere in between, this can be a daunting experience. Here are some quick tips as you embark on this journey.

Invest heavily in your team

Good Luck with Those Development Plans

While I have your attention, let’s (not) talk about what makes a good development plan.

After years of working with executives, the question of what goes into a good development plan frequently comes up and can be a frustrating one for two reasons: the first is that there are as many options for good development plans as there are leaders; second, and most important, is that it’s the wrong question to be asking.

Want Measurable Change? Think Operating Culture

Many senior leaders consider ways they can define and transform their organization’s culture. However, there are so many definitions of and frameworks for organizational culture that it can be difficult to align on the best way to truly effect measurable change. For example, some define organizational culture as the shared values and beliefs that contribute to a company's norms for what behavior is acceptable; others describe it as the customs and written and unwritten rules that have developed over time.

Is Your Succession Planning Process “All Ornaments and No Tree?”

I work with a CHRO who once described her company’s succession planning process as “all ornaments and no tree.” On the surface, her feedback might seem somewhat surprising. After all, the company conducted biannual talent management roundtables during which its top 200 or so leaders (and their viability as possible successors for enterprise-critical roles) were discussed in detail.

Succession Planning for 21st Century Talent: Part 1

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is predicting and developing 21st century talent. As always, should you or any of your team fail, the C-suite will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This article will self-destruct in two minutes.

So, you take on the mission. Driving this course is not going to be easy. It will involve making turns at speed, accelerating fast, and at times stopping dead in your tracks. All without the wheels falling off.

Succession planning is a fluid and dynamic state

Humility and Leadership

Years ago, I shared an early draft of a competency model with a Japanese colleague. He responded, “Where is humility on this model? f you have humility, you include customer service, quality, etc.” I replied that customer service and quality were already represented on the model, but that when you norm a model on American executives, humility doesn’t necessarily jump to the top of the list. This remains too true today.

A Breakthrough Alternative to Sourcing Talent

For more than sixty years, the primary resource for companies seeking outside executive talent to fill key roles has been search firms. The search firm business model has been remarkably resistant to change, with both retained and contingency searches costing as much as a third of first year compensation for the hired executive. While these firms offer a valuable service to their clients, there are some significant drawbacks to traditional search beyond the extraordinary fees.

Leverage Your Company’s Pivotal Talent to Maximize the Impact on Results

When the countdown to the new fiscal year begins, companies take a hard look at next year’s spend and carefully allocate resources to people development.

They identify gaps in the talent pipeline and carefully consider possibilities, and before you know it, they have focused their attention and investment on the high-potential (HiPo) talent.

Sound familiar? Absolutely!

Sound good? Not necessarily—and here’s why.


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