Heidrick’s study found that companies hiring externally favored other CEOs, ready to tackle the challenges of global business in a pandemic. Internally, division leaders were favored, particularly COOs. But these more traditional paths only accounted for 20% of CEOs. The rest followed a diverse range of paths, with companies valuing a wider range of backgrounds, skills and levels of experience.
“Though CEOs expect to rely ever more on their teams, boards are also increasingly seeking diversity of experience and thought in the CEOs themselves,” says the report. So how do you ensure your CEO strategy will secure you the top role?
Set your CEO agenda
To ensure you’re on the right track, you need to plan like a CEOand get into the mindset.Create your own CEO agenda and consider what you want to accomplish with it. What are your goals? How will you judge at year’s endif you were successful in reaching them? Are you heading in the right, proactive direction toward success?
A Global CEO Program can help potential CEOs better grasp the knowledge, mindset, skills and capabilities needed to lead companies to the next level of excellence.
Plan your succession
Heidrick’s 2020 CEO report found that companies are increasingly developing internal successors as CEOs. In today’s extraordinary business conditions, companies are bringing in potential CEOs at one or two positions below CEO level to allow executives to immerse themselves in the business culture.
This gives companies a range of candidates to choose from, so it’s essential that you are strongly aligned with the company’s vision if your goal is toemerge as the natural successor to the CEO.
“The case for a functional CEO is strongest when his or her expertise is core to a company’s critical business challenges,”say Michael Birshan, Thomas Meakin and Kurt Strovink from global strategy and corporate finance firm McKinsey. “Organizations in the midst of a major digital transformation might benefit from a CTO in the top spot, and a CMO-turned-CEO could be just what the doctor ordered for a company rethinking its brand portfolio.”
Look to the future, not the past
In a somewhat prescient survey of 800 global executives in 2013, leaders suggested that an increasingly disruptive environment makes past performance an unreliable indicator of future CEO success. “The great majority see their companies’ ability to effectively identify and nurture great future leaders being significantly hampered by an increasingly complex business landscape,” the report correctly projected.
More important than past performance, they overwhelmingly agreed, is identifying the personal traits that indicate leadership potential.