The AMA Handbook of Leadership

By Marshall Goldsmith; John Baldoni et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 18

Making Successful Transitions:
The Leader's Perspective

Patricia Wheeler

Job security in the executive suite may be more tenuous than ever. The rate at which executives move or are moved from one organization to another, and the frequency at which they transition from one role to another inside the organization, are at an all-time high. According to a study by Booz Allen Hamilton in 2007, global CEO turnover was at roughly 15 percent—the highest it had been since 1997.1 In January 2009, amid the global economic crisis, this had not changed. Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based executive recruitment firm, estimates that 1,484 CEOs transited out of their jobs in 2008. This is the equivalent of five CEO transitions every business day.2

Yet, even as the number of executive transitions and the complexity of executive roles increases, the chances of failure appear to be increasing as well. Studies point to 40 percent of new leaders failing within the first 18 months.3 Aon Consulting reports a 50 percent chance that an executive will quit or be fired within his or her first three years.4 A new study reports that almost one in three senior-level executives coming aboard from other organizations will fail by the two-year mark; this number is one in five for corporate leaders who are promoted from within the company.5

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