Critical steps for new CEOs

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New CEOs aiming to establish high-performing executive teams face a pivotal task that can significantly impact organizational success.

The authors’ Research shows that cohesive leadership teams correlate with accelerated revenue growth and increased profitability. However, building such teams requires decisive action and a clear vision from new CEOs.

Decisive actions

While some CEOs opt for rapid restructuring, others hesitate, fearing repercussions or feeling loyal to existing leaders. Yet, research suggests that regardless of CEO action, turnover within senior team roles during transitions is common. Successful CEOs navigate this challenge by overcoming indecision traps and addressing emotional barriers.

Lead with purpose

To build effective teams, CEOs should articulate a clear organizational purpose, or “North Star,” to guide decision-making and evaluate team composition. Additionally, they must actively seek to fill information gaps and assess executive leadership agility to ensure adaptability in a fast-paced environment.

Embody culture

Leading by example is crucial, as CEOs set the tone for organizational culture. By defining expected behaviors and team norms, CEOs can foster a culture conducive to success. However, CEOs must also acknowledge their blind spots and apply caution when making personnel decisions, balancing boldness with prudence.


Communication plays a vital role in navigating team transitions, with authenticity and clarity essential for maintaining trust and morale. Tough decisions should be communicated empathetically, aligning them with the organization’s collective purpose.

Key questions

To inform decisions about the top team, CEOs should ask themselves key questions about the organization’s purpose, strategic agenda, team composition, desired culture, and potential blind spots.

Factoring success

Ultimately, establishing a complete executive team early in a CEO’s tenure significantly increases the likelihood of success. CEOs who delay crucial decisions risk falling behind, potentially impacting their long-term effectiveness.

Therefore, new CEOs must be prepared to act decisively to shape their leadership teams and set the stage for future success.

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