Understanding the CEO Landscape

With the rate of change accelerating and many industries under the threat of disruption there’s never been a more important time to understand the external pool of talent that could lead your organization. The challenge many organizations face is that the talent pool for highly-qualified CEOs is ever changing and requires regular monitoring. Korn Ferry’s privileged access to the world’s top leaders coupled with our studies on high-performing CEO’s and analysis of industry trends, allows for an unparalleled evaluation of external pools of CEO talent.

Building a CEO Profile

Korn Ferry’s research into high-performing CEO’s informs our point of view on what competencies drive organizational performance. We bring this perspective into our early conversations with the Board of Directors to advise on their search strategy while diving deep to understand their organizational needs.


This consultative approach determines the key responsibilities, skills, experience, and personal attributes required to ensure success for the organization. The close partnership also allows us to translate the short-, mid-, and long-term business strategies into a leadership profile against which potential candidates can be measured objectively and consistently.

CEO Assessment

Korn Ferry has conducted more than 2.5 million assessments (over a million on executive-level leaders) and created profiles for over 8.5 million candidates. Through careful analysis of the most successful executives in our research database, Korn Ferry has a unique understanding of what drives success at the CEO level. CEO’s recommended by Korn Ferry’s proprietary assessment methodology perform better than peers on key financial metrics and stay 67% longer than other CEOs. To ensure CEO candidates meet these requirements we utilize two methods of assessment:

  • Best-in-Class Profiles Assessment: Statistically validated, and based on decades of academic research; Best-in-Class Profiles can be tailored, as appropriate, to fit each client’s unique culture and the specific demands of the position. Candidates are assessed, and then their decision styles and career values are compared against the appropriate Best-in-Class Profile. Our experienced consultants complete the Search Assessment process by thoroughly examining any potential fit gaps between a candidate and a person.
  • Korn Ferry Four Dimensions (KF4D) Assessment: Helps companies to identify top talent for their organizations, assess performance and developmental gaps of their leaders, measure the effectiveness of their global talent workforce overall – and even compare their level of talent to their industry peers. KF4D’s state-of-the-art platform provides the industry’s most robust set of validated diagnostics for evaluating leadership effectiveness, cultural fit, and success.

Transitioning a new CEO

While senior executive teams are made up of talented and highly effective individuals, times of transition cause changes to strategy, operations, culture, and political relationships that can degrade team performance. The cost of these changes is significant—it is estimated that $14 Billion is lost in the U.S. each year from poorly transitioned incoming CEOs. And the impact isn’t just financial; changes at the top of an organization affect employees, customers, careers, company reputation, and shareholders.


Korn Ferry works directly with new CEOs, their direct team, and exiting CEOS to ensure a smooth transition. Our programs include support for internal and externally hired CEOs:

  • Enabling top team effectiveness – Develop new operating procedures and processes for the whole team during a time of change and recommit to a shared purpose.
  • Coaching for New CEOs – Support specifically designed for new to role CEOs that helps them set strategy, engage the team, and develop their leadership style.
  • Support for the exiting CEO – Guidance and coaching to ensure support for the next phase of life including process for knowledge transfer.

Strategic and Organizational Alignment

Korn Ferry understands that finding the next CEO is more than just a simple hiring project, it requires thoughtful attention for all the stakeholders involved including: the Board, senior executives, organization leaders, and employees.


Using world-class, scientific methodologies, Korn Ferry delves deep into clients’ organizational DNA to help their people, teams, and culture become more accepting of change and sustain transformations. These related services ensure that high-performing top teams have the environment, support, and leadership to continue thriving and growing:

  • Strategic Alignment: Getting top executives, key talent and organizational practices aligned to the company’s strategy can be daunting and time-consuming. Using rigorous, research-based methods, Korn Ferry will help executive teams prioritize their strategic initiatives and discern which essential skill sets will maximize per-employee value.
  • Organizational Structure & Design: Constructing the right organizational framework for your workforce is essential; it is akin to laying a sturdy foundation for your building. Korn Ferry will design a structure to fit your strategy — and bring out the best in your leaders and workforce.
  • Cultural Alignment: Developing or changing corporate culture is not an easy task. We assess different dimensions of culture, such as how work is done, how decisions are made, and how people relate to one another. Then, we take action to bring those mindsets and behaviors into sync with your organization’s strategy.

Designing CEO Compensation Packages

Aligning CEO pay and performance to support a longer-term business strategy within the context of economic uncertainty will require tough decisions by the Board, and not all changes will fare well with shareholders and proxy advisory groups.


Korn Ferry provides a full service to compensation and remuneration committees, from designing pay policies that align to current and future business strategy to supporting on the consultation process with investors, and managing the technical implementation and communication of incentive plans. We also work with management to help them use pay to help implement strategy effectively.