How well do you evolve ?

The secret to long term CEO success is conceiving of her tenure as a series of distinct acts”– suggests David Nadler, strategic consultant.  Each act requires the CEO to lead, think and behave in different ways.  The successful ones make as many smooth transitions as are called for.

Nadler brings up a lot of good insights.  I particularly liked the one that attributes the stage at which a CEO is being hired.  A CEO may be hired precisely because (s)he is perceived to be strong in an area where the company most needs help, whether that be changing the culture or bring innovation. Nadler also stresses the need for the CEO to constantly evolve. Many CEOs fail because of “success syndrome” – the style of leadership that had worked in an earlier situation may not suit another, if the context has changed and that calls for quick transition.  Interesting reference to Carly Fiorina’s tenure at HP and her eventual exit – can’t be more apt…!

Even CEOs who navigate change easily do worry about the stage to exit, says Nadler.  They begin by asking “Did I leave the business with effective leadership?”.  He quotes the recent decision of Ken Freeman, CEO of Quest Diagnostics to retire at age 52 – after overseeing its successful spin-off from Corning – as an example of good self assessment.

With interesting concepts like “one-act CEO”, this K@W post is a highly stimulating read.  I’d loved it.  Did you too…?


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