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BrightSight Group speaker Kevin Coyne is quoted extensively in today’s Wall Street Journal Theory & Practice article on determining whether and when to replace lieutenants. Timing is critical. Move too fast and managers risk dumping valuable institutional memory. But move too slow and they may delay much-needed changes.
From the article,
“Kevin Coyne, a management consultant and a professor at Emory University’s business school, says new CEOs usually decide whom to replace within the first 60 days. CEOs assess lieutenants and place them in one of four categories: stars who will be key aides; other keepers who aren’t stars; people to replace eventually but not immediately; and those who should go immediately.
Mr. Coyne says the most common regret among CEOs in hindsight is not replacing mediocre people — those in the third category — fast enough. “They wish they had been one step harsher,” he says. “Most of them say, ‘I was too forgiving.’ “
Mr. Coyne says CEOs tell him they hesitated for a variety of reasons: The executive was well-liked inside the company; the CEO feared firing too many people too quickly; or the CEO believed the deputy would ultimately come around to his vision for the company.