Stock illustration: People climbing ladders

It’s a wonderful feeling for the whole organization when a home-grown high-potential executive in treasury or finance moves upward and takes his or her rightful place in the C-suite. Everyone celebrates the selection and sits back to watch the magic happen. At least, that is how it’s supposed to work. But what happens when the individual with so much promise can’t deliver after the big day arrives?

It always comes as a shock when someone with an impressive combination of talent, experience, and results fails to achieve success in a new role. What causes a high-potential executive to crash and burn when scaling to the next level? Failure can usually be traced to one of two causes—either an unaddressed shortcoming in the individual or a failure at the organizational level.

Companies looking to improve the success of internal promotions need to review their talent management systems. Many wait until after a high-level departure to assess the skill gaps of internal candidates. Instead, organizations should work to identify high-potential individuals on an ongoing basis and prepare them in advance to have the right experience and skill sets before the next appropriate position opens up. And individuals looking to advance into a leadership role in treasury or finance need to put some thought into how their careers are progressing. (See the sidebar 4 Steps to Set Yourself up for Advancement.)


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