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Leaders: is it better to breed your own?

Maxine Boersma

Financial Times

12 February 2015 

PA’s Lesley Uren, talent management expert, is quoted in an article in the Financial Times on high-profile external or internal CEO hires.

The article explains that research shows companies normally promote from within due to some of the qualities internal candidates already hold.

The article draws on PA’s research which explains organisations choosing internal candidates for more than half their appointments could have a total shareholder return as much as 51 percentage points higher than those using mostly outsiders.

The article goes on to explain that Lesley is conducting an interview-based study that looks into what makes chief executives successful. Lesley says: “We found that what defined the career success of chief executives — whether ‘grown’ or ‘external,’ was the exposure to big challenges early on and people ‘taking a chance on them’. Some graphically described these as their ‘eek’ experiences.”

Lesley provides an example of an “eek” experience, which she explains as being parachuted into a difficult foreign market without a team or knowledge of the local language. 

Lesley concludes by saying that such experiences develop the wisdom of the chief executive.


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