The first rule of thumb: No surprises. If a CEO is surprised by the chairman or board about an obvious gap in his or her skills or leadership skill-set, then clearly that board hasn't done its job in mentoring the leader in the first place. Especially if the leader has been around for a while, as in Jim Zorn's case: In the corporate world, it would be equivalent to the board hiring a chief operating officer or president on its own and announcing that decision to the CEO and shareholders at the same time. in other words, without forewarning, such a change does come off as undermining the leader.
It isn't hard to imagine non-sports circumstances when a leader may not have all the necessary skills needed to meet an organization's challenges. A lot of CEOs are great at vision and strategy but may not be great at staying on top of daily execution. Or understanding technology. In which case, there is nothing wrong in reinforcing that leader with a strong operational executive or a great, visionary chief technology strategist. But that decision has to be organic, and the CEO ought to be very much involved -- even if initially he or she may have to be cajoled into it -- in choosing the reinforcements.
The best leaders are those who know their limitations and see a key hire to fill the gap as simply helping them and their organization perform even better. But such leadership nirvana can only be achieved if the board/chairman/owner doesn't have any motives other than making sure both the leader and the organization are going to succeed. Otherwise, there will a lot more L's in the Win-Loss column.
Posted by: tedunni1 | October 27, 2009 11:47 AM
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