The Psychology of Business: Behind the Scenes of CEO Succession

Cites consultant Kerry J. Sulkowicz
Featured on Harvard Business School of Greater New York

Hardly a day goes by without a story about CEO succession appearing in the news. Prominent and not-so-prominent CEOs get fired, step down under pressure, or retire, and the ensuing transition to new leadership creates uncertainty, strain, and drama for these organizations. It also creates opportunity.

Behind the scenes there is plenty of drama, as complex relationships, organizational denial, and powerful personalities all play out under great scrutiny and with high stakes. The process of moving out a standing CEO, and then finding the right match of personality and skills to the culture and business challenges of an organization, is quite complex.

Dr. Kerry J. Sulkowicz advises CEOs and Boards of Directors on the psychological aspects of leadership transitions and other critical points in a company’s life cycle. He helps boards think through the process of replacing current CEOs, assesses internal and external candidates for the job, and facilitates the onboarding of new leaders.

A psychiatrist and psychoanalyst by training, Dr. Sulkowicz consults to Fortune Global 1000 companies on various psychological aspects of managing complex organizations. Dr. Sulkowicz is the Founding Principal of The Boswell Group LLC, a consulting firm focusing on the psychology of business. His consulting work over the past decade has been a direct application of his clinical expertise in understanding human behavior.

Dr. Sulkowicz works primarily with senior executives in highly successful organizations who find it essential to have an ongoing opportunity to discuss the people side of work, particularly the most sensitive and ambiguous issues that arise in the course of doing business. In addition to CEO succession, these include top management team dynamics, board/management relationships and governance dynamics, and corporate crises.

A Contributing Writer at Fast Company magazine, Dr. Sulkowicz writes the monthly “Corporate Shrink” column, in which he responds to readers’ questions on the psychology of business. His article “Worse than Enemies: The CEO’s Dangerous Confidant” appeared in the February 2004 issue of the Harvard Business Review. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Time, Fortune Small Business, The New York Observer, The Robb Report, and WebMD, among other publications.

A Texas native and graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Sulkowicz earned his M.D. from the University of Texas and was a Resident and Chief Resident in psychiatry at New York University Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital. He is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, where he received the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1996.

This event took place on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at Thomas Weisel Partners, 390 Park Avenue (54th Street), 2nd Floor. It was organized by Alex Daniels ’95, Angela Piscitello ’95.