It’s tough to get to the top and it’s getting even tougher to stay there. In 1984, 35% of CEOs had been in the job for at least a decade but by 2009 the average tenure at the world’s biggest corporations had dropped to around six years, with only 19% in the post for 10 years or more. A 2018 PwC study showed that CEO turnover hit a record high of 17% that year, with more leaders forced out for ethical lapses (39%) than any other reason, including financial performance or board struggles – a first in the study’s history.
“CEOs are in the public spotlight more than ever,” says Daniel Schauber, founder of Exechange, which tracks executive changes and determines their ‘Push-out Score’ – a measure of pressure on departing CEOs that gauges if they were forced out or departed voluntarily. According to the Push-Out Score analysis model, between 2017 and 2021 half of 1,093 departing CEOs in the US stepped down under strong pressure.
“Being forced out or fired is perfectly normal for a CEO,” Schauber says.“At the same time, CEOs are usually keen to protect their own reputation as much as possible when they are forced to leave. As a result, they usually prefer to leave quietly and avoid a very public firing.”