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Success or failure as a new CEO isn’t predetermined. No matter how experienced and capable a new CEO is as a leader, the first 12 months of their tenure are pivotal in setting them up for success.

When CEOs fail to gain momentum in this period, it is costly for the individual and the organization. After two years, the delta between the best and worst performers can be a massive 57% of total shareholder return (TSR), and roughly one in five CEOs will be fired before they finish their third year.

The reputational and economic cost of not getting the first year right is enormous. Ensure you are positioned for success.

40% of boards are dissatisfied with their CEO’s performance in first 18 months.1

What determines CEO success in the first year?

Having placed more CEOs than any other firm and analyzed the performance of thousands of CEOs after their appointment, we know that successful CEOs lay a firm foundation in the first 12 months by getting five things right:

  • Quickly connecting with and activating their executive team, while simultaneously determining who should be on board for the journey ahead.
  • Defining a handful of early strategic moves that build momentum and signal the direction of travel to stakeholders and the entire organization.
  • Driving impact beyond the leadership team by engaging the layer of leaders who translate strategies into the real work of the organization and have their ear on the “truth on the ground.”
  • Proactively engaging the board and other stakeholders.
  • Evolving their own leadership effectiveness by creating a strategy for how they want to show up as a leader.

How we enable your success

As your leadership performance partners, we draw on nearly 70 years of experience and research to help new CEOs build a successful platform in the pivotal first year.

We provide focused support to help CEOs master the critical levers of success — including team alignment, culture, style, communications and structure — in a thoughtful, disciplined way. Our programmatic, intense and comprehensive program is tailored to the specific company context with a laser focus on helping the CEO deliver concrete performance outcomes.

  • Regular 1:1 advisory and coaching meetings with the CEO to gauge progress against early milestones, map out recommended actions, and elevate the CEO’s leadership effectiveness
  • Structured workshops with the executive team to strengthen team cohesiveness and build alignment
  • Support for the CEO as they engage the board and other key stakeholders to inform the CEO’s understanding of board dynamics and expectations
  • Targeted diagnostics for team dynamics and organizational culture

1CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest, McKinsey, 2022