First-Time CEOs Outperform

So although the best ideas may not always come from the top, there is a difference in who leads. In most endeavors, experience is a good thing. But new research finds that for CEOs, it often carries surprising costs. In a study of 500 CEOs appointed over a 20-year period, the researchers found that those with experience in the role consistently underperformed their novice counterparts over the medium to long term, counterintuitive though it may seem.

Why do so many seasoned leaders lag? The research team believes it happens because they fall back on the playbook from their last job, become overly concerned with cost-cutting, and are less adaptable than rookies, who tend to pay more attention to top-line growth. It is the power of curiosity, adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to confront problems with fresh eyes rather than with rules of thumb.


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