Handing Off to a New CEO

I’ve worked with several dozen clients through the process of a CEO transition: The outgoing CEO who will serve as the Board’s executive chair. The outgoing CEO who’s ready to sit on a beach for a while. The incoming CEO who’s succeeding a capable predecessor. The incoming CEO who’s succeeding a dismal failure. The former CEO who sold the company and will be an executive with the acquirer. The former CEO who’s taking another executive role under their successor. The investor and the C-level leader who aren’t changing roles but have ringside seats and will be heavily impacted.

There’s no one right way to orchestrate and execute this transition–every situation is unique, and there are a host of factors that merit consideration. But I’ve observed a sequence of stages that CEOs and companies tend to follow–see below. To be clear, there’s nothing prescriptive about this framework–it’s not a required order of operations, and it’s not uncommon for a CEO and their colleagues to work through these stages in a different order.

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