How to Deal With the Sudden Loss of a CEO

Mark Hurd's departure from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) for ethics violations and Brenda Barnes leaving Sara Lee (SLE) because of health problems serve as important reminders that senior executives can—and will—leave at a moment's notice. The sudden and unexpected loss of a CEO (or any top executive) has the potential to throw the best-performing company into a tailspin if emergency succession plans are not in place. Does your company's succession plan provide a blueprint for what will happen in the event that a senior executive dies, is disabled, or is forced from the company on short notice?

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