Articles

The Dark Side of CEO Succession (1988)

Manfred Kets de Vries

"What are the underlying dynamics of succession?"

This article explores the underlying dynamics of succession. Most CEOs and most board members manage the CEO’s succession well. In many companies, CEOs are bound by tradition or policy to step down at a certain age, and plan accordingly. Many have enough vision and insight to overcome any momentary desire to stay on, and indeed take pleasure in training and developing the next generation of managers. But some CEOs have a very hard time dealing with succession and retirement. And other key players, including members of the board and top managers—willingly or not—may also avoid taking real action or give only lip service to change, thereby sabotaging a succession.

Harvard Business Review, 1988

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