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What Would You Do if Your CEO Quit… Today?

There have been a lot of high-profile positions shifting around lately. You’ve probably heard about Tim O’Shaughnessy stepping down as CEO from giant online deals company, LivingSocial. O’Shaughnessy saw the company from a small startup, to the household name it is today. Without giving an exact date, he has announced that he will remain Chief Executive until a replacement is found in the first half of 2014.

The WaPo visited the LivingSocial Washington office recently and got the scoop on CEO O’Shaughnessy straight from his employees,

“Employees called O’Shaughnessy an approachable leader who encourages a relaxed yet high-energy office culture; he eschews a separate office in favor of working at a desk near entry-level employees in the office’s open floor plan. A life-size, smiling decal of the CEO is pasted on the wall next to the elevators in the office.”

There’s no word just yet on what LivingSocial plans to do to fill those pretty awesome shoes. They are also looking for a Strategic Recruiting Search Director who will be in charge of senior-level recruiting and succession planning in Washington. Hmm….

What would you do if your CEO announced their departure?

Would the organization be ready? Succession planning is that tricky part of a business that very often gets put on the back burner. If that is the case, it can have detrimental effects on a company. Most companies only get the importance of succession planning when it’s too late.
RJ Morris recently wrote a post for Fistful of Talent in which he compares two succession planning cases, Microsoft and GM. Long story short, when GM’s Akerson decided to step down, leaders were prepared with a solid succession plan complete with 6 options, ending in the internal hire of the first female automaker CEO, Mary Barra. Barra has made it clear that GM’s succession plans were “perfectly aligned” to carry out the organization’s global goals. Barra said,
“There is no right turn or left turn we’re going to be making. We want to accelerate.”
Akerson’s decision to leave was based off of his need to take care of his ailing wife. The departure was not terribly foreseen and it happened quickly. It was because of strategic, ongoing succession planning that this transition was as smooth as it could have been.

That’s the kind of story that makes an HR professional feel…

photo credit: Noukka Signe via photopin cc