Impending CEO Exit Creates Big Uncertainty

A 15-year “Celebrity CEO” contemplates retirement without the proper connections, infrastructure, and people-confidence to carry on in the CEO’s absence.

Case Stories


“Celebrity” CEO facing retirement



CEO of 15 years which led organization successfully and defined the company’s Culture and Purpose looks to retire in 1 – 2 years. Health concerns mean the retirement is inevitable and have created an environment of uncertainty as both the market and employees are aware.


Primary Challenges

  • CEO is the face of organization and many internal/external relationships
  • Lack of confidence of key stakeholders
  • No leadership community in place to bear the weight following CEO exit
  • No clear succession plan or exit strategy



  • CEO has taken multiple leaves due to health issues, stalling progress and creating work for others
  • Pending retirement creating a vacuum of uncertainty, disruption, and turnover as company future less sure
  • Market/competition is moving past company due to lack of broader direction beyond CEO


Emotional Pain Points

  • Massive uncertainty in leadership and upper management
  • CEO anxiety concerning her retirement


Could Not or Didn’t Know How To

  • Successfully navigate succession planning
  • Develop sustainable leadership culture not tied to CEO
  • Stop turnover of leadership and create confidence in future through clarity of their contributions and future of organization
  • Incorporation and acceleration of new CEO

theo Intervention



  • Evaluate and refresh organizational Vision and associated elements (transformational agenda – readiness and 5+1) to be highly sponsored by key stakeholders, the board, and successor



  • CEO Advisory for CEO and for continuity when new CEO arrives
  • Leadership Advisory for key leaders to show investment, sponsorship and to help guide them
  • theo Profile for successor and other future key leaders

Functional Outcomes

  • CEO and Organization receive calm and confidence in defined path
  • A weightbearing leadership team is created — Synergy & performance, connectedness among Sr. Leaders, oriented to MVP
  • Retention as future is clearer


Emotional Outcomes

  • Relief
  • Renewed confidence
  • Elimination of anxiety and uncertainty