The Hero's Farewell

The Hero's Farewell : What Happens When Chief Executive Officers Retire

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How a business replaces its chief executive is a vital issue for the firm's future. Unless the transfer of power is managed effectively, the business may be thrown into turmoil--with profound implications not only for the CEO, but also for the other employees, the shareholders, and sometimes even the industry as a whole. Yet not enough is known about this crucial moment in the history of a company. ___Filled with inside stories from corporate boardrooms and fresh conceptual perspectives, The Hero's Farewell describes in rich detail the factors that affect executive succession, focusing for the first time on the critical role a CEO's departure style plays in helping or hindering the transfer of power. Sonnenfeld has obtained candid interviews with fifty prominent retired chief executives from corporations such as AT&T, Ford, Dupont, United Technologies, and Raytheon (including Edwin Land of Polaroid, David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan, and Tom Watson, Jr. of IBM). Through these interviews and a survey of an additional 300 top managers, he identifies the four major types of leadership departure styles: Monarchs, who choose not to leave voluntarily but either die in office or are overthrown; Generals, who leave reluctantly and spend their retirement planning a comeback; Ambassadors, who retain close ties with their former firms; and Governors, who willingly serve a limited term and leave to pursue new interests. Understanding how these leadership styles affect the transition process can enable both CEOs and their firms to better prepare for the changes to come. ___Executive successions are rarely easy, especially today when, as the author points out, many of our business leaders have become heroes. These heroes are often unwilling to surrender control of a firm to which they have dedicated their lives. Retirement deprives them of a clear sense of purpose and indeed, for many, it is equated with abdication of responsibility and even death. Yet some retiring leaders exit constructively, starting new lives for themselves and leaving behind a firm that is capably managed. ___Capturing the human drama of these departures and succession battles, The Hero's Farewell will fascinate anyone intrigued by power struggles in large corporations. More important, in outlining the ways to smooth out the inevitable transfers of power that corporations must face, it provides essential information for all top executives and especially for CEOs.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 33.02mm | 612.35g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 8 line drawings
  • 0195050916
  • 9780195050912

About Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld

About the Author Jeffery Sonnenfeld is Associate Professor of Business at the Harvard Business School. He has twice won the Academy of Management's annual award for outstanding research on social issues, and was named to their Board of Governors in 1988. In addition to being on the editorial board of several scholarly journals, he also consults on career issues with approximately 30 companies--ranging in size from small businesses to major corporations--and has written three other books and numerous articles on executive careers.show more

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7 ratings
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3 29% (2)
2 57% (4)
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