CEO Search and Succession

Securing your leadership pipeline

Select the right CEO today, tomorrow and years out

Organizations cannot succeed without the right leadership. The best CEOs are Enterprise Leaders who can maintain business performance today and transform the organization for tomorrow – simultaneously.

Our CEO succession solution combines advisory and search capabilities to help you define the talent you need; understand the talent you have and realize their potential. Whether your organization has an immediate CEO search, or you are looking for a continuous partnership, together we can ensure you can accomplish your ambition and your purpose with the leaders your business deserves.


What we do in CEO Search and Succession

Create your CEO Success Profile

Align on what “great” looks like for your CEO role and benchmark your candidates against it.

We help you develop a bespoke CEO Success Profile that links the current and future strategic priorities of your organization directly to the capabilities needed for success in the CEO role – not just the what, but the how and the who that will determine the right selection for the long term. It's a holistic and comprehensive approach, looking at “what, how, and who”.

Our approach integrates insights from three sources:

  • The external market landscape
  • The uniqueness of your culture, ecosystem, transformation agenda and needs
  • Korn Ferry’s research-based benchmarks, drawing on the largest normative database of the CEOs globally.

This profile gives the board a shared understanding and alignment about what good looks like and a common, unbiased framework that can be used to assess all candidates, external and internal, once the CEO search is underway. It’s an essential tool for benchmarking each potential CEO candidate’s experience, competencies, traits, drivers and mindset.

The importance of CEO succession planning should not be understated and creating a Success Profile is a proven approach to ensure the right candidate is appointed.

Assess your internal candidates

Uncover the internal talent in your company with a complete picture of their capabilities, experiences, mindsets and readiness for the CEO position.

Through an internal CEO search, we help you to identify and evaluate the strongest candidates from within the company, and determine their potential, their readiness and the fit of each possible CEO successor. Each candidate is assessed against the Success Profile, so you have everything you need to understand the business impact each candidate is capable of making, to ultimately appoint the best CEO for your organization..

Multiple comprehensive assessments provide the complete picture of each candidate, including their strengths and their potential gaps. These assessments include:

  • Leadership interview focused on leadership capabilities
  • Market interview focused on career experiences
  • Psychometric assessments
  • 360 interviews to evaluate how the candidate is perceived from an outside-in perspective
  • Business simulations that place candidates in situations with real-time CEO-level challenges

The insights from our CEO assessment will tie development plans directly to strategic impact. While all candidates will have some gaps,  we focus on the development priorities that will make the biggest difference.

Accelerate development

Help your candidates develop and grow their potential so they’re ready for CEO succession

After the CEO Assessment is complete, Korn Ferry continues to support the best CEO candidates to ensure their continuing development and preparation for CEO succession. In this context, CEO succession planning means we clarify each candidate’s strengths and development needs and specify the actions needed to enhance their readiness, which may include the creation or restructuring of roles to fill job experience gaps.

For each candidate we create a personalized development journey, tailored around the on-the-job experience and the goals of the business. These development journeys are immersive, engaging, collaborative and relevant to the business. These programs are run by top leadership development professionals who specialize in CEO development all day every day.  They have cross-sector experience and work with candidates in practical, on-the-job capacities that create business impact throughout their journey. Because they are developing against your unique CEO success profile, you will see how they either progress or become less viable to what the business needs.

We provide ongoing support and coaching to candidates for an agreed upon period of time, with periodic reviews of each candidate’s progress against development plans and updating the Board and CEO throughout the journey.

External CEO search

Find the best potential CEOs in the business and see how they measure up

We confidentially identify and appraise executives from related industries to determine top players for your CEO recruitment. Then we evaluate these external candidates against the CEO success profile for your company. Next, we provide 10-15 profiles to the board, detailing candidates' experiences, mindset and skills so you can see how your internal talent matches up. We’re also ready to partner with you to identify potential areas within the business to insert new talent.

Of course, sometimes you are ready to launch a CEO search immediately, and we can do that to.  All anchored against the needs of the business as outlined in your CEO success profile for not only what you want the candidates to have already done, but what capabilities and aptitudes they need to have for the future.

Set your new CEO up for success

Onboarding and coaching that supports a seamless transition

We help you optimize the CEO transition process. Once the appointment of the best CEO candidate is made, Korn Ferry can help accelerate their impact through a seamless program that supports their intersection with the organization – right out of the gate. We call it the CEO Impact Accelerator, which facilitates a process with the new CEO and Korn Ferry experts in the areas that will matter most.  This is where the perform transform agenda for your organization connects to your new CEO in a program that maps out how to accelerate personal, organizational and societal impact.

Meanwhile, our LifePlan Institute supports the outgoing CEO in planning for their next phase, moving senior leaders from performance-driven leading to purpose-driven living.

Meet our CEO Search and Succession team

We have a large, global team with deep industry expertise working within our Board and CEO Services practice. Find your nearest consultant here.

Talk to an expert

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