Standpoint: Why the language is cryptic when CEOs leave

By Daniel Schauber *

Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

When CEOs leave, the first five questions are quickly answered.

Question six is tricky.

The reason for the change is often described in cryptic language.

Bosses leave their posts “to spend more time with their families,” “to pursue other opportunities” or for “personal reasons.”

This is because, first, listed companies are free, within certain limits, to give a reason for a leadership change. Second, there is often more than one reason. Third, legal restrictions apply.

A leader’s moment of exit is crucial, because it carries a message.

If possible, the company emphasizes continuity.

If necessary, it will strive to distance itself from a disgraced leader — for example, in the event of performance problems, disputes over strategy or misconduct.

Such information is sometimes linguistically coded, also for legal reasons.

But codes are made to be decrypted, and the Push-out Score can help in this regard.

* The writer is the owner of the research firm exechange.