Changing CEO

When a senior management retires from management, he/she should not interfere with his/her successor. On the other hand, the temptation to interfere can be too great, ie

"...watches as a new boss changes the team he built, overhauls the culture he created, and reverses the management style he developed..."

Andrew Hill 2019

The areas of most potential conflict are when

- a founder, who is retired from management, is still a major shareholder

- a senior manager then becomes a director

In both cases, the person feels that they are entitled to interfere

"...The last thing your successor needs is the (CEO) ghosts hanging around to act as the lightning rod for any dis-affected opponents of change..."

Ian Cheshire as quoted by Andrew Hill 2019

Many CEOs are concerned about their legacy and that their successor could threaten this. Consequently, they can become very defensive and antagonistic to the new management.

This is sometimes called executive muscle memory. Some examples of this are

- 7 years after retiring Jack Welch (former CEO, General Electric) stating publicly that if his successor, Jeff Immelt, missed an earnings target, he would "get a gun and shoot him"

- 14 years after retiring and after at least 4 chief executives, John Reid (ex Citigroup CEO), was still criticising the leaders

 

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