Preparing for Shorter CEO Tenures

November 23, 2022 – Like it or not, there’s a new leadership reality coming. The post-pandemic period has brought permanent changes and challenges to the U.S. workforce, including condensed CEO leadership tenures. For boards and executive leadership teams, the time to prepare is now, says BroadView Talent Partners in a new report.

Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, continue to retire in record numbers. They are being replaced by talented, energetic, innovative, and dynamic X-Gens (born from 1965 to 1980) and experienced Millennials (born from 1981 to 1996). “These new cohorts will naturally give you three to five years of leadership, readily stay for five to seven years, and optimistically may endure for only seven to 10 years,” said the report.

“No longer will organizations encounter leaders who readily extend tenures beyond 10 years,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “There’s always an exception to the rule, and this new reality is no different. However, what we have observed and what you may experience in your organization when a leader stays beyond 10 years, is a palpable drop-off in leadership efficacy, organizational impact, and staff and stakeholder receptivity.”

That’s because the same leader with the same voice naturally dulls over time. “So embrace this new leadership tenure reality, because while it may be different from in generations past, it’s giving organizations the opportunity to remain fresh, relevant, and engaged with their target audience,” said the search firm.

More Leadership Stints

The new generation of leaders has unique and different aspirations and goal sets from their predecessors. They also maintain an aversion to overstaying their welcome and potentially missing out on the next frontier of challenge and growth. “In fact, in order to achieve their highest career goals and aspirations, an X-Gen or Millennial may pursue three or four leadership stints before heading off into retirement,” said BroadView Talent Partners.

Related: Post-COVID Recovery Sees the Rise of Revenge Hiring

Given this reality, organizations can no longer find themselves ill-prepared for regretted losses or leaders who get hit by the proverbial bus. Boards and executive leadership teams must ready themselves, said the report, being mindful of few important realities and best practices to reach max tenure in the current marketplace:

CEO tenures, for example, are highly correlated to boards that are duly engaged, fundraising focused and devoid of dysfunction and over-reach. What’s more, CEOs stay where they are fairly rewarded, compensated, and otherwise treated with dignity, respect, and professionalism.

Adapting for Change

Organizations should also keep in mind that boards that are strategic, advisory, and governance-focused have the best chances at retaining their leaders, said BroadView Partners. In addition, boards must encourage an early commitment to and intentionality towards succession planning and management, with the ultimate goal of producing discernible results and board alignment between years three and five. And last, boards must make CEOs accountable for succession planning results at the ELT or C-suite levels as well.

“Over the next five to 10 years, X-Gen and Millennial executive leadership turnover and transition rates will occur at breakneck speeds compared to their Baby Boomer predecessors,” said the report. “Long-tenured leaders, those who stay north of 10 years, are tied to a bygone era that will never return. As a result, boards need to adapt their strategic planning, governance, and succession management initiatives accordingly. I urge you to ask: Is your board ready to navigate the challenges of a brand-new, shrinking era of executive leadership?”

Founded in 2015, BroadView Talent Partners is a national executive search firm dedicated to placing leadership in affordable housing agencies, non-profit organizations, and associations, as well as middle market companies. The firm provides clients with a national network; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a record of long-tenured placements. Its specialties include executive search, talent acquisition, retention solutions, career management, executive coaching, and board development.

Related: Retaining Your Employees During the Great Resignation

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments