The Retired CEO won’t get out of the way … what should the board do?

A very high-profile credit union faces a leadership and strategic crisis that may derail the organization for decades.

Here is the situation I have observed from afar. The retired CEO disagreed with the new CEO’s direction for the credit union and won’t get out of the way. He has publicly disrupted the organization’s annual meeting, strategic future, and reputation. While retirement is typically seen as a time for a CEO to step back, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and allow the new leadership to take the helm and guide the company forward, this retired CEO became a bully and publicly disagreed with the strategic direction of the new CEO and refused to disengage by continuing to exert his influence causing disruption. Sadly, the new CEO resigned, and what appears to be a loyalist of this disruptive CEO was appointed as the successor. However, this doesn’t solve the problem because the new CEO is now caught between two very different strategic directions a team that was hired for a new direction that is unlikely to advance and a leadership team with totally different views of the future.

This is an organizational failure on multiple levels. Not only does the credit union need to come to terms with a beloved CEO retiring, but they must go through numerous leadership shifts and strategic instability. When a retired CEO disrupts operations and strategy, the board of directors must act swiftly and decisively. Still, their first obligation should have been to the vision of the new CEO, focused on something other than bowing to the loyalties of a past leader.

This article will explore effective strategies for managing disruption caused by a retired CEO who refuses to disengage:


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