People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 52

Linking Theory + Practice
When the CEO Exits
2. If your CEO were to step down or
leave today, how confident are you
that his/her permanent successor
would immediately be an internal
direct report (i.e., immediate promotion without an interim CEO)?
3. If your CEO were to step down or
leave today, how long do you think
it would take to have a permanent
successor in place?
4. Should you be using external/third
party help in CEO succession?
5. What ongoing activities does your
board engage in regarding CEO
succession?
In the end, this research study
included 10 formalized succession
planning activities that CHROs might
want to consider as they develop and
improve their own FSP activities. Each
of the 10 activities "align with three
established planning domains: (1)
defining the desired CEO role profile
based on current and future strategy,
(2) identifying candidates with the
potential to fit that profile, and (3)
creating development experiences for
successor candidates" (Schepker et al.).
Table 1 shows the top 10 FSP activi-

ties included in the study. CHROs may
want to consider recommending these
activities to their boards and top management teams as part of their strategy
for leadership succession.

Insights for HR Leaders

In a personal interview conducted
with a researcher for this study, Dr.
Michael D. Ulrich stated that CHROs
are uniquely positioned to provide
critical value to boards of directors in
their most important responsibility -
selecting the new CEO. Yet Dr. Ulrich
emphasizes this will not happen unless
the CHRO has earned credibility with
the board.
However, with credibility in hand
the HR executive can provide a formal
process that will be invaluable to the
board of directors as it navigates power
plays, politics and personal interests
inherent in CEO succession decisions.
Ultimately, the board needs reliable
and objective information on high-potential talent that has been well-prepared to lead the organization.
HR executives can work with boards
early on to set up formal succession
planning activities, grounded in

TABLE 1 TOP TEN CEO SUCCESSION ACTIVITIES 1
1.

Conduct ongoing assessment of readiness of internal candidates and depth of talent pipeline

2. Develop clear role profile for CEO aligned to 5+ year enterprise business strategy analysis
3. Review formal development plans for CEO candidates
4. Design exposure to board for CEO talent pipeline
5. Provide formal tools for talent assessment of CEO pipeline candidates
6. Provide a clearly defined ownership for CEO succession processes
7.

Provide feedback processes on performance and development to candidates

8. Develop clear role profiles for direct reports to the CEO aligned with 5+ year enterprise business
strategy
9. Conduct 5+ year business strategy and global industry sector analysis
10. Consider restructuring organization to create building block roles and key experiences for
potential successors

52

PEOPLE + STRATEGY

agreed-upon, rational and ongoing
procedures. HR leaders add distinctive
value as they help the board overcome
information barriers by specifying the
next CEO's role based on long-term
strategy, identifying successor candidates, providing high-potential leaders
with significant developmental opportunities, bringing in external talent
where gaps exist, and creating bench
strength that is both deep and wide.
This valuable contribution will
help boards answer the call for more
effective and engaged corporate governance. Nowhere is this more important
than in facilitating a successful CEO
succession decision. HR leaders have
an important role to play as architects
of the processes used to prepare and
identify the new CEO who will chart
the company's future direction and
strategy.
Bradley Winn, Ph.D., is a senior editor for
the People + Strategy journal and a leadership
professor at Utah State University. He is
an award-winning instructor who presents
regularly at national events. Brad can be
reached at brad.winn@usu.edu or see www.
huntsman.usu.edu/bradwinn.

References
Schepker, D., Nyberg, A., Ulrich, M. &
Wright, P. (accepted for publication).
Planning for future leadership: Procedural rationality, formalized succession
processes, and CEO influence in chief
executive officer succession planning.
Academy of Management Journal (in press).
2
Tricker, B. (2009). Essentials for Board
Directors: An A to Z Guide.
3
Call for papers, [clarifying this reference]
4
Vancil, R.F. (1987). Passing the baton:
Managing the process of CEO succession. Harvard Business School Press:
Boston, MA.
5
Kahneman, D. (1991). Commentary: Judgment and decision-making: A personal
view. Psychological Science. 2(2).
6
Chambers, E., Foulton, M., Handfield
Jones H., Hankin, S. & Michaels E.
(1998). The war for talent. McKinsey
Quarterly, (3).
1


http://huntsman.usu.edu/bradwinn http://huntsman.usu.edu/bradwinn

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1

From The Executive Editor
From The Guest Editors
Perspectives
So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
Are Your HiPos Overrated?
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Executive Editor
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Guest Editors
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 6
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 7
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 9
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 10
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 11
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 12
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 13
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 14
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 15
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 16
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 18
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 19
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 20
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 21
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 23
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 24
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 25
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 26
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 27
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 29
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 30
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 31
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 33
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 34
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 35
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 36
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 37
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Are Your HiPos Overrated?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 39
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 40
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 41
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 43
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 44
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 45
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 46
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 47
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - In First Person
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 49
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 51
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 52
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 53
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 55
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 57
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 58
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover4
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