Dear Chairman: It’s Time For A New CEO. Here’s Why.
Chances are good that the downturn of 2007-2008 caught your company off guard. Most firms I know were heavily into growth mode when the music suddenly stopped and there was a mad scramble for the remaining chairs.
Yes, companies play musical chairs just like kids at a party. You can’t grow while seated, and when the music is on, when the economy is supercharged, you’ve got to play or fall behind.
So chances are you suddenly discovered the leader who brought you this far was ill equipped for the task of leading you through survival and out the other end. Sooner or later, many boards found new CEOs to lead.
…And lead they did. And now most have outlived their usefulness. Chances are good that it’s time to replace your leader again, or you’ll fall behind.
Since 2008 (give or take), companies have been in a mad scramble to become more efficient. They have squeezed all sorts of savings out of their processes. Our CEOs have led this, as their boards trusted them to. If there’s any more blood to be gotten from your corporate stones, that’s another reason to sack the CEO. What has your company been up to in the past 4-5 years?
All the big savings and efficiencies have long ago been found and fixed. The Law of Diminishing Returns tells us that further squeezing is only tweaking what should already be a highly lean business operation.
It’s time to figure out how to grow again. What is reported in the media and even the industry press is only nominally important, because by the time trends become obvious, they’ve already been underway for quite a while. It’s time right now to grow or perish.
I firmly believe there are two types of CEO out there. One is an efficiency expert. These are about as exciting as a garden hoe, but guess what? Sometimes we need Aesop’s slow and steady turtle to get us back in the race.
The other type of CEO is the one you read about, Aesop’s charismatic rabbit whose vision and energy can transform your company from a plodder into a sprinter.
If your CEO is a turtle, this post is for you. Go out and get a rabbit.
Better yet, elevate one from a few ranks down your own corporate pyramid. I’ll bet you anything she’s already down there, though not too near today’s CEO in the org chart.
Of course, best of all is to have a rabbit at the helm and a turtle working alongside her as COO or president, keeping things lean and efficient as you grow. If your CEO is savvy enough to have already established this model at your company then never mind. You’re probably fine.
But in my observation, that isn’t one in a thousand. So don’t be fooled. For you, it’s almost certainly time for a new CEO.
Please note: When you pay someone eight figures, firing them shouldn’t be a heart wrenching decision. They aren’t likely to go on the dole to keep the kids fed. I have a lot of CEO friends and acquaintances, and I myself was a CEO for several years. We get it. This job insecurity comes with the territory.
Graphic by Shawn Murphy