How to Hire the Right CEO, COO or President – CEO Succession Searches—Part 2

A President in a fitted navy blue suit jacket buttons his suit, only his torso and arms visible against a gray background.

Did I Hire the Right CEO, COO or President?

Hiring the right CEO is a critical decision and one that includes a number of complex factors. Previously we talked about the practice of hiring an external successor for the CEO, COO or President role months or even years out. M&A Executive Search & Consulting has conducted hundreds of these top-level succession searches and our experience has uncovered some common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Is the current President & CEO ready to step aside? We’ve seen this situation many times– we’re brought in to conduct a search and find a new leader for the company– and even after successfully filling the role, in 2-3 years the newly hired leader is already out and the former leader has decided to take the role back. The question is, are you or is your President/CEO ready to step aside? Is the board and/or the family ready for a new leader? If the President & CEO is also the owner, what will he or she do after stepping down since this might be their life’s work?
  • Culture – It’s a word used often these days and for good reason. Culture is one of the biggest reasons why an external hire might not work out at any level. Make sure that you find someone that fits your company’s unique culture.
  • Finding the right leader means finding a leader who can help the company navigate the current needs of the company. Take time to really understand the needs of the business, i.e., are we downsizing, looking for efficiencies, have a new product focus, expanding geographic territories in which you sell, scaling up a small to mid-size business, finding investors etc.? Finding a leader who has experience not just in your industry but with the challenges you face is crucial to making the right hire.
  • Do you have an integration plan for the newly hired President & CEO? Do you have a plan on how to integrate this new person into your culture, with your customers, employees, and board members?
  • Do you need a leader who comes from a large company? If you are a small to mid-sized company, we’ve found that finding leaders with a combination of large and small company background is the most desirable. Often executives coming from large companies lack the ability to be “hands-on” enough and are not used to operating at a high level without the support they were used to.
  • Misalignment of company strategy and goals. So often after the honeymoon period ends, there is conflict with the new President & CEO and the board and or owners. Communicate with one another expectations up front; including what the company goals and objectives are and, most importantly, communicate the vision to be sure everyone is aligned. The more you agree to up front the less likely you’ll run into unwanted surprises later on.

If you have a need for a new C-level leader talk to M&A Executive Search about how we can help you find the RIGHT leader for your unique company.