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AI, geopolitical risk, the macroeconomic environment, and sustainability pressures are just a few of the disruptive forces that won’t relent this year. Now, a large cadre of CEOs fear they might lose their jobs as a result of these pressures—especially after 2023 saw record high turnover for those in the top spot.

“Difficult macroeconomic circumstances, industry disruptions, political instability—all of these externally-induced situations will drive insecurity for CEOs,” Peter Thies, managing director with executive compensation and leadership consulting firm Pearl Meyer, wrote in an email.

“With CEOs specifically, if they don’t have an open, frank, and ongoing dialogue with their board, they are naturally going to be less sure of their standing in difficult times.”

While boards have largely been understanding of how hard it’s been for CEOs, when thinking of succession planning, all of these disruptive forces should drive directors to look for resilient leaders.

“Succession planning is no longer just an annual discussion,” Thies wrote. “Directors are more and more attuned to the need for active, ongoing succession planning—not just to address an immediate situation, but also the medium and longer-term transition scenarios.”

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