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  • Tara Rethore

Boards: Connections Matter for New CEOs

Note: This article is fourth in a series talking about how Boards can position their new CEOs for success.


Boards often spend considerable resources searching for and selecting their new CEOs. Unfortunately, as many as half of new CEOs fail within 18 months of taking the helm.

Further, a failure to manage stakeholder relationships can derail even the best leaders.

What can the Board do to avoid that mistake?


Facilitate Connections. The Board can help the CEO to identify the key stakeholders, develop stronger relationships with them, and prioritize which relationships to develop first. For example, the Board can make introductions to key external stakeholders, perhaps as part of the CEO’s formal learning agenda and action plan. Internal successors are often first-time CEOs and may need help in establishing themselves in this new role. Guide them to understand what it means to be a CEO, and visibly put the weight of the Board behind them. Doing so allows the new CEO to borrow credibility from the Board as she/he gains traction.


Setting up your new CEO for success creates tangible value for your organization. Yet, numerous studies suggest Boards can do this better. Throughout the process of finding, hiring, and integrating your new CEOs, set aside specific time and resources to support him/her. Done well, that initial investment will pay dividends for your organization well beyond the CEO’s transition period.


Previously in this series: Leadership Team and next: Nonprofit CEOs.


PS: Ask me about the Rethore Rapid CEO Assessment™. Identify a few key actions to enhance your new CEO’s success.


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