How Long Is Too Long to Be Chief?

A leader must have vast-reaching vision, but is it good to be following the same person’s vision for so long? In an article for the Financial Times, John Gapper examines the perils of spending too much time as CEO. For starters, yes, long-toothed CEOs might cling to the same strategy for so long that it becomes antiquated. They also might start trusting just a small cabal of advisors and inadvertently isolate themselves from customers and the rest of the business.

Of course, the other end of the spectrum is unattractive too; it is frustrating when the top leadership role changes constantly in an organization. Leaders who are actively aware of their short shelf life might make big moves fixated on the short term, with the option to disappear if long-term results cause damage. But in actuality, at the largest companies tenure of chief executives averages six and a half years, with a median of 4.8 years. Incidentally, as far as shareholder returns go, 4.8 years is actually the ideal amount of time to stay on the job. However, separate research has found that chiefs peak between eight and 10 years when judged by operational measures.

So how long is too long? As always, it depends, though the numbers above can serve as a rough guide. Not everyone can be Jack Welch, but what matters the most is being able to stay in touch with customer trends and the business climate over time. To delve even deeper into the discussion, you can view the original article here:

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