8 Reasons CEOs Get Fired

Why CEO’s Get Fired?

In this article we are going to look at how people become CEOs, why they are fired and how they can prevent getting fired. According to a study done by Russell 3000 Index (A company that tracks the performance of the top 3000 U.S. stocks) 52% of CEOs were fired, meaning less than half of the CEOs leave on their own terms.

In this first study done by LinkedIn (including 12,000 people with the title of “CEO” on their LinkedIn profile in a business with more than 50 employees) we can see what the CEOs most common first job and first job function were.

Most common 1st Jobs of CEOs

  1. Consultant
  2. Software engineer
  3. Analyst
  4. Sales manager
  5. Project manager
  6. Account manager
  7. Manager
  8. Founder
  9. Associate
  10. Software developer

Most common first job functions of CEOs

  1. Business development
  2. Sales
  3. Engineering
  4. Info technology
  5. Consulting
  6. Finance
  7. Entrepreneurship
  8. Operations
  9. Marketing

The study also showed that 72% of CEOs spent time as directors prior to taking on the chief executive role. 80% of CEOs were promoted externally from other companies, leaving only 20% of CEOs being promoted internally from the company they worked at.


Leading reasons for dismissal

Based on interviews with 73 CEOs who had been fired, researchers for the CEO Genome Project found that the leading reasons for dismissals were as follows:

  1. Poor performance – 30%
  2. Relationship issues with the board – 26%
  3. A lack of key skillsets – 22%
  4. Alienating the management system – 12%


In a different study done by Mark Murphy with Leadership IQ, published on Forbes, that included 1087 board members from 286 organizations that fired, or otherwise forced out, their chief executive. They found the leading reasons for boards dismissing CEOs were as follows:

  1. Mismanaging change – 31%
  2. Ignoring customers – 28%
  3. Tolerating low performance – 27%
  4. Denying reality – 23%
  5. Too much talk, not enough action – 22%


Why CEOs get fired:

  1. Lose the board
  2. Middle of a scandal
  3. Not meeting expectations
  4. Not having majority control
  5. New buyer
  6. CEO fires themselves(resigns)
  7. Lost influence over team
  8. Company outgrows CEOs ability

How to prevent getting fired:

  1. Know that you can get fired
  2. Growth in sales
  3. Pour into your team
  4. Develop new leaders
  5. Bringing on new customers
  6. Bringing new partnerships
  7. Creating alliances
  8. Preventing mismatch between you and the company culture

Five types of CEOs

  1. Extremely driven CEO
  2. Constant learning and improving CEO
  3. Steward/Safe CEO
    1. Loyalty, dependability, helpfulness and reliability matter for them
  4. Diplomat
    1. They are good at unifying people and creating a synergy
  5. Technical
    1. These CEOs are very analytical and data driven


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