Case Study: CEO Succession And Developing Leaders For Global Growth


The CEO of one of North America’s largest real estate investment firms was nearing retirement. At the same time, the company was eager to expand its presence in the U.S. following a major acquisition. Beyond identifying internal candidates for the top job, the board wanted to be sure the company had enough skilled leaders at the next management level to drive innovation and growth.

Our combined succession planning and leadership development solution addressed these priorities through an integrated approach. We helped objectively identify a successor, got everyone aligned on the business strategy, and built the leadership capabilities required to accelerate growth and the integration of the acquired firm.

Business Situation

A Canadian real estate investment advisory firm had acquired a U.S.-based company with the goal of creating an integrated, North American business.

Meanwhile, the firm’s CEO was nearing retirement. While half of the organization’s board members were focused on finding a succession candidate, the other half felt it was critical to build broader leadership capabilities among its 60 senior leaders to ensure that the next CEO had a deep bench of leaders to support him or her.

Our Point of View

To help address these priorities, we had to first help convince the entire board and leadership team that more than technical expertise would be necessary in the future. To execute their business strategy, the organization would need to identify the specific critical leadership skills required to deal with more complex North American assignments, then assess and develop leaders against these capabilities.

This initiative would also create stronger alignment among leaders on their growth strategy, and build a pipeline of internal candidates for the CEO role.

How We Helped

We held strategic conversations with Board members and top executives to determine the firm’s future challenges, leveraging our industry expertise. Next, our team of Succession, Assessment, Leadership Development, Team Effectiveness and Coaching specialists worked concurrently to efficiently identify the mindset and competencies that senior leaders would need to help the firm innovate and grow.

We then assessed top executives against those competencies to determine their strengths and weaknesses. To accelerate development among key talent, we delivered targeted programs including executive coaching, leadership forums and offsite retreats. We helped leaders become more adept at making difficult decisions in ambiguous situations and take accountability for the results, while also strengthening the one-company culture across North America.

Sustainable Impact

By showing a direct connection between being better leaders and building a better business, we quickly gained support from the board, the CEO and senior leaders to help them become more accountable for their day-to-day decisions. Based on our recommendations, the firm is making structural changes to address anticipated business challenges more effectively while accelerating the integration of the acquired U.S. company.

In addition to developing stronger candidates for the CEO role, the initiative is highlighting career development opportunities at the company — crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. 


*For more information please contact Seonaid Charlesworth, Vice President of Executive Assessment and Succession,  or 403-410-6028.

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