Beyond the Basics: The Real Differentiators Between Success and Failure in CEO Succession

By Josh Rubenstein, Jeff McLean, and Samantha Hellauer


Directorship Magazine

Boards know the basics of CEO succession planning, but many CEOs still have a shorter than desired tenure. What can boards do differently to ensure that their CEO succession plan does not just cover the fundamentals but does everything possible to set them up for success?
Corporate directors largely know and follow foundational CEO succession best practices, which helps them avoid the biggest, most obvious missteps in finding a new CEO...


1    Ruth Umoh, “About 40% of new CEOs fail within 18 months. Here’s what separates the best from the rest,” Fortune, March 11, 2022, https://fortune.com/2022/03/11/how-best-fortune-500-ceos-leverage-boards.

2   Jeanne Sahadi, “Up to half of exiting CEOs don’t quit. They get fired,” CNN, July 19, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/19/success/ceos-getting-fired/index.html.

Photo Credit: iStock/Marco Venturini Autieri


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Josh Rubenstein is a partner at ghSMART with a focus on CEO succession, CEO coaching, and building top teams.

Jeff McLean, NACD.DC, is president of ghSMART and advises public and private company boards, CEOs, and investors on building winning leadership teams.

Samantha Hellauer is a senior manager and researcher at ghSMART. She focuses on CEO succession, boards, and private equity.


This article is from the Fall 2023 issue of Directorship.