Got a New CEO? How to Make the Cut

If you can, check out the lead article, “Surviving Your New CEO,” in this month’s Harvard Business Review. While I find many HBR articles long and pretty dry, this one’s worth a read. Co-author Kevin Coyne, a McKinsey vet and current lecturer at the Harvard Business School, stopped by the office today, and he offers a refreshing perspective on the overdone topic of executive turnover. While much of the coverage has been at the macro-level—why high turnover is happening and what the effects will be—Coyne speaks to the individual, telling you how to make the cut after the new guy arrives. (An outline of the tips can be found here.)

The statistics he lays out are frightening. In looking at new CEOs that came in from the outside at the 1,000 top U.S. companies between 2002 and 2004, more than a quarter of proxy-level execs (those among the top five earners at the company) left the company. Even more disturbing: Of the some 400 such executives who left after a new CEO arrived in 2002 or 2003, none found a similarly high-ranking job in any large U.S. firm.

Coyne, who also consults with CEOs, wrote the article with his dad, a retired Kaiser Aluminum executive and a b-school prof himself. Gotta respect that.

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