Getting it Right: Selecting the New CEO

By: Thomas J. Saporito

Because of the critical opportunity afforded a company when making the right decision, and the immeasurable cost for getting it wrong, the CEO selection decision must be grounded in a thorough and in-depth assessment of each candidate. The foundational guide for this is the leader profile, a blueprint that defines the requisite leadership skills and character traits expected of the successor CEO.

Boards need insightful information on, and meaningful interactions with, each prospect. Assessments should examine the nominee’s knowledge, skills, competencies, social intelligence, and other personal attributes in order to form a broad picture of each contender’s capabilities and potential. Presentations alone are not adequate, nor are resumes or letters of praise. The fact that 60% of board members rate themselves as having inadequate interviewing skills suggests the need for a deeper analysis of candidates from unbiased individuals who are independent of the search process.

Given the difficulty of knowing what skills will be most important in the future, integrity, trustworthiness, and sound character are critical attributes that transcend any situation. Stable characteristics such as personality and cognitive abilities are not readily identified in interviews, but need to be taken into account and can be gauged accurately through a professional assessment procedure.

Excerpt from Inside CEO Succession: The Essential Guide to Leadership Transition

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