Executive Failure

Executive Failure Rates Reflect a Gap in Executive Development

Senior executive failure rates are not a secret. Popular estimates indicate between 50 and 70 percent of executives fail within the first 18 months of a promotion to an executive role. In Rising to Power, Ron Carucci and Eric Hansen from Navalent document the results of a ten year longitudinal study that included 2600 interviews with Fortune 1000 leaders.

The survey reported that 76% of respondents stated formal development processes in their companies poorly equipped leaders for transitions to levels of greater responsibility. While the dynamics and challenges of executives are distinct, 55 percent of respondents indicated they had minimal coaching and feedback to help them develop the abilities required to succeed in an executive role. Perhaps even more telling is the statistic that 45 percent of those surveyed stated they had little understanding of the challenges they would face in an executive role.

If numbers tell us anything, it appears we are expecting emerging leaders to absorb rather than develop the skills and behaviors required for effectiveness in a senior executive role. A former manager once taught me, “They don’t get if from the carpet and the drapes.”

Many companies report that succession planning is a major risk for their organizations. Firms across the country acknowledge they don’t have the talent in line to assume leadership in strategic roles. Perhaps it is time to recognize the cause of executive failure may have as much to do with preparation as with the person. When we consider investments in human capital as critical as other enterprise investments, we’ll begin to see a turnaround in the failure rate of those we send to the top.


Copyright 2015, Joseph M. Jordan/Jordan Development, Inc. Content may be shared with proper attribution.