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Assess Your CEO’s Strategic Fit Over Time – Marc Effron and Miriam Ort – Harvard Business Review

  HBR Blog Network . Assess Your CEO’s Strategic Fit Over Time by Marc Effron and Miriam Ort  |   9:00 AM March 12, 2014 Roger Federer can arguably be considered the greatest tennis player of all time, having won 16 Grand Slam titles—and yet he lost every French Open Championship he played against Rafael Nadal.  Few would suggest that Nadal was a better overall tennis player. But on the clay courts of Paris’ Roland Garros stadium, he was the best player. And even though no one would deny Roger Federer’s overall tennis prowess, no one expects that he would win in every conceivable situation. So why do we assume that our CEOs will? Like Federer, some CEOs consistently win in one context but lose in another.  If you’re involved in CEO selection, this requires that you both hire the right CEO and understand when the company’s strategic situation suggests that a different CEO is more likely to win. Retaining a leader whose profile no longer fits the strategic imperatives of the business can have disastrous business consequences.  Two poignant examples: Steve Ballmer was a strong fit for Microsoft’s challenges when he was promoted to CEO in 2000.  The company’s twenty years of entrepreneurial success had positioned the company to reap greater financial rewards using a more disciplined operational focus.  Ballmer effectively led this shift and saw strong revenue growth from it.  However, by the middle of the decade, Google was growing, YouTube was forming, and “operational excellence” wasn’t a differentiating strategy in technology.  Ballmer had done his job, but the strategic needs of the organization had shifted.  As CEO fit decreased, Ballmer’s...

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