Insider or Outsider CEO?

When Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO and successor to Bill Gates, announced that he would be stepping down in August 2013, there was no immediate successor. It appeared, that despite being a huge employer of more than 100,000 people, Microsoft had no obvious internal successor. The search began where more than a hundred external candidates were identified! What were they looking for? Whatever it was, they finally found it – in their very own backyard.
 
Satya Nadella, incumbent CEO of Microsoft was appointed 6 months later. In addition to several trade and industry awards, he has also been honored as amongst the top CEOs in the 2021 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards. The people have spoken.
 
Apparently, Microsoft had a list of more than 10 potential successors to Steve Balmer, for the CEO position. Interestingly, it is reported that almost all had departed the company. Did this mean that the succession planning was a ‘done-and-dusted’ activity? Perhaps if it had not been, there is a high probability Satya Nadella would have made it to the list, with the right leadership development for the succession.
 
Thus, it is not about getting an internal or external CEO. It is about having a robust strategic leadership succession plan to develop the talent pipeline for the best fit.
 
What are your leadership development needs? We need to address the gaps in the leadership pipeline and accelerate leadership readiness and cultivate talent for sustainable future growth.  

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