PJ Neal

Thoughts from a more-than-occasional writer

CEO

  • Board chairs and nom/gov committee chairs often ask the question, “When and how should the CEO be involved in board recruiting?” The question is even more important when a new CEO is in the role and there is a need to define working relationships and practices. Over the past couple of decades, there have been…

  • Faced with a CEO succession, many corporate directors hope an internal change agent will emerge as a viable candidate for the role. What specifically are boards looking for in these internal candidates? Our experience with CEO succession over the last several years tells us that four priorities increasingly rise to the top: The ability to…

  • For a long time, whenever companies wanted to hire a CEO or another key executive, they knew what to look for: somebody with technical expertise, superior administrative skills, and a track record of successfully managing financial resources. When courting outside candidates to fill those roles, they often favored executives from companies such as GE, IBM,…

  • The last 18 months will likely go down as one of the most disruptive – and likely most difficult – periods leaders will face in their careers. Yet despite all the challenges this year, there are signs of an improving economy. Unemployment numbers are decreasing after a substantial increase earlier this year. Many companies are…

  • CEO succession planning is one of the most important responsibilities of a corporate board, and one of the most challenging. In the best of circumstances, directors are working thoughtfully to anticipate the future, develop potential successor candidates over several years, and to ultimately have one of them step into the top spot. In emergencies or…

  • CEO succession planning is one of the most important responsibilities of a corporate board, and one of the most challenging. In the best of circumstances, directors are working thoughtfully to anticipate the future, develop potential successor candidates over several years, and to ultimately have one of them step into the top spot. In emergencies or…

  • Few senior leaders have faced a challenge in their career as severe and potentially consequential as the Coronavirus pandemic and its global impact. Leaders who often rely on pattern recognition and past experience are finding that today’s issues have no historical comparison. This period is a truly novel test of their leadership ability – and…

  • Pandemics are unlike any other challenge we face as leaders. There are no words to fully describe the feeling of dread when you find out one of your colleagues has fallen ill. There are also no words to describe the feeling of pride when you hear of a colleague going out of their way to…

  • The current COVID-19 pandemic is a global tragedy with profoundly human consequences. It is also creating situations where we have seen examples of extraordinary human performance and growth, as individuals and leaders come together to do what they can to help those around them. As senior executives naturally focus on the immediate implications of this…

  • In a world where shareholders increasingly expect to hear about corporate citizenship along with corporate financial performance, social value is becoming an important consideration at every level of the organization. To learn more, PJ Neal, who oversees Russell Reynolds Associates’ Center for Leadership Insight, talked to two RRA consultants who are at the forefront of…

  • CEO misconduct, be it personal misdeeds, illegal business practices, violations of ethical norms, or something else – seems to be in the news more often these days. And when a CEO misbehaves, the entire company suffers. The organizational consequences of CEO misconduct are significant. Researchers at Stanford University have shown that when a CEO is…

  • CEO transitions have always been challenging, but never more so than in today’s environment. As a board governance, leadership consulting and search firm, Russell Reynolds Associates is asked regularly to conduct CEO searches and support long-term CEO succession planning. We advise our clients not to forget about transition planning as a distinct process that needs…

  • General Electric builds a lot of things — including leaders. Since GE’s 1892 founding in Schenectady, New York, almost every single GE CEO has spent all, or virtually all, of his career at the company. As the conglomerate has grown across continents and industries, it has repeatedly been able to develop leaders with diverse skills…

  • For years, U.S. public companies have faced pressure from Wall Street to meet or beat quarterly earnings estimates. In response, they have discontinued quarterly guidance, forgone major investments, and sometimes prettied up results with accounting tricks. These defense mechanisms succeed to varying degrees but reveal a concerning truth: Executives often allow the market to define…

  • When Guy Laurence lost his job as CEO of Rogers Communications in October 2016, it quickly became the subject of newspaper headlines and evening news reports. Hired in December 2013 to run the family-owned Canadian business, Laurence was a successful, experienced executive. Previously the CEO of Vodafone UK, he came to Rogers with seemingly all…

  • What we want from our CEOs changes with every economic boom and bust. In the late ’90s it was the “vision thing.” After the tech bubble burst, it was a focus on growth at all costs. In the shadow of the global financial crisis, we wanted leaders who were comfortable with cost cutting and capital…

  • Why do some people become CEOs and others don’t? Why do some Chief Executive Officers thrive while others fail? What separates an outstanding leader from an average one? For several years, our teams at Russell Reynolds Associates and Hogan Assessments have sought to understand the differences between average and best-in-class leaders at all levels in…

  • When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore in the mid-1990s, he did so with a clear vision for how he wanted to manage the enterprise. “We believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder value we create over the long term,” he wrote to shareholders in 1997. “This value…