More CEOs are heading for the exits, according to a monthly report on large-, medium- and small-business leadership compiled by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It found 219 U.S. chief executives stepped down from their posts in January, up 37% from the month before, and up 40% from January of last year.
Why is there so much turnover in the C-suite?
“There’s a lot of new technologies, new competitors, and companies are having to retrench, change strategies, and bring in outside talent to help them combat those technologies,” said Andy Challenger with Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
He said when a CEO vacates the top slot — voluntarily or with a push — it’s often an outsider who replaces them.
Turnover is highest in nonprofits and government, where leaders face a volatile election year that could impact their funding and programs.
In every industry, however, CEOs face unexpected threats, like coronavirus.
Joe Galvin at executive advisory firm Vistage says CEOs he works with spent the last two years navigating the U.S.-China trade war. Now coronavirus has become a factor.
“In one case, their factories will be closed until mid-March,” he said. “That’s an emerging flash point.”
Galvin said CEOs face more mundane challenges, like how to hire talent when unemployment is so low, and how to increase sales when economic growth is so slow.
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