How Ready -and relevant – are YOU?

Do you want to be a CEO someday? Could you be the next CEO at your company? If you said yes to either, here’s one key factor: you must “stay relevant”. That’s according to John Chambers, former executive chairman and CEO of CISCO Systems. His advice was shared with the current Owner/President, Management (OPM) class at Harvard University. I recently had the privilege to audit this particular class led by Professor, and award winning author, Boris Groysberg. Harvard has been offering the OPM program for more than 40-years to help the world’s top executives and entrepreneurs realize their true leadership potential. I felt like I was at the UN! More than 130 participants from around the world were in attendance absorbing tremendous knowledge this day about succession planning and how to do it well. Our case study: CISCO and their succession from John Chambers to Chuck Robbins.

As we learned from Professor Groysberg, most companies will make their new CEO choice based on the PAST, or at best, what is happening in the PRESENT, when what they should be focusing on is the FUTURE. More often than not, however, succession happens because of an “event” which is not the best case scenario. You want all transitions to be “non-events,” and in order to do that you must have a process in place!    Chambers says that process needs to begin 5-10 years before you ever need to make a change. He calls it “grooming the pipeline,” a CEO’s job: to pick, hire and continually develop talent, but that talent also has a responsibility to constantly reinvent themselves. Chambers believes that needs to happen every three years! You must always be learning and always be developing yourself to stay relevant.  

In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2017, it concludes that as companies build the organization of the future, “continuous learning is critical for business success.”

Another way to look at it according to author Mark Niemann-Ross; “In four years, you’ll have to relearn 30% of your job.” How do you do that? Start by sharpening your existing skill set, learn adjacent skills, and determine where your deficiencies are. Executive Coaching can be a huge benefit here. It can transform a future leader into an actual leader, a leader who is ready to take over the reins and ensure a successful CEO succession.

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