The Hero's Farewell: What Happens When CEO's Retire

By Jeffrey Sonnenfeld
How a business replaces its chief executive often determines that firm's future. If a business does not effectively manage the transfer of power, utter turmoil can result, with profound implications not only for the CEO, but also for the other employees, the shareholders, and the community at large.
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. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld offers the first close examination of the critical role a CEO's departure style plays in helping, or hindering, the transfer of power. Through candid interviews with fifty prominent retired chief executives from corporations such as AT&T, Ford, Dupont, United Technologies, and Raytheon (David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan and Thomas J. Watson, Jr. of IBM among them) and a survey of an additional three hundred top managers, Sonnenfeld identifies the four major types of leadership departure styles. These types include 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 time and leave to pursue new interests.
Capturing the human drama of these departures and succession battles, The Hero's Farewell will fascinate anyone intrigued by power struggles in large corporations. Outlining ways to smooth out the inevitable transfers of power that corporations must face, Sonnenfeld presents essential information for all top executives and especially for CEOs.

"A thoughtful account of the transition that high-powered CEOs confront as they consider retirement."--Chicago Tribune

"Intriguing exploration of succession strategies."--H.A. Raymond, University of South Dakota

"Excellent--thoughtful, well-documented, rich material, well-written. An important contribution."--Lynne Rosansky, Babson College

"Excellent book on what makes the CEO tick. The scholarship is sound, and the conclusions are convincing."--F.M. Buchanan, Salisbury State University

"Excellent--covers a very intriguing topic which all managers must deal with."--Lanny A, Karus, State University of New York, Oswego

"A shrewd management study."--Newsweek

"Sonnenfeld presents an original theory, based on five years of research and interviews with fifty top executives, to explain both the psyches and the departure styles of CEOs. He offers frank, revealing profiles of individual business leaders and how they left....A pathbreaking achievement. Sonnenfeld's research is innovative and substantive, his material is soundly organized, and he presents it with skill and flair. The book deserves to be read widely, both by business people and by others who want insights into what's happening in corporate America."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Sonnenfeld has provided a valuable service, as well as an interesting study, by showing through examples that the method by which a CEO exits a firm can be as important to the company as the method by which that same chief executive led it."--The Miami Herald

"[Sonnenfeld] has succeeded--and succeeded brilliantly--in what he set out to do....One of the best business books of the past year, perhaps of the decade....[The Hero's Farewell] has something of real value to say about management and, more important, about leadership. The volume is filled with fascinating stories from inside corporate boardrooms, but these stories never fall into mere anecdotalism: they always make or confirm an i


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About the Paperback

Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Publish date 04/27/2001
Pages 336
ISBN-13 9780195065831
ISBN-10 0195065832
Language English