With all the challenges facing companies today, it’s no surprise that when the going gets tough, the CEO job gets tougher. A quick look at the corporations who have changed CEO’s recently reveals some of the most significant changes in C-suites in decades. Both large and small companies have executed both planned and unplanned succession strategies that would leave any stockholder scratching his/her head, or smiling with joy, depending on which side of the boardroom or stock price you are sitting.

Here’s a list of companies who have appointed new CEO’s or on the hunt for one over the past few months:


Home Depot






Walmart U.S.


Sports Authority


Fred’s Super Dollar




Barnes & Noble


Deluth Trading Co.

So, if the turnover of CEO’s and Presidents in Corporate America today is so volatile, I make the case that it’s much better being the #2 person in the organization. Let’s face it, we are not all corporate or business visionaries. Yet there is nothing wrong in aspiring to be the “Great Second Guy/Gal” (GSG) in the organization.

  • The GSG is the person that drives the process and keeps the visionary on track
  • The GSG has the ability to recognize the potential of a vision and has the responsibility to turn vision into reality
  • The GSG is the key person ultimately responsible for the succes or failure or any vision.
  • Most importantly, the GSG doesn’t want to be the CEO.

 Here are “The 5 Tenets of the Successful GSG”

  1. Finding the right person

The first rule of playing successful tennis doubles is picking the right partner. Common goals, complimentary styles (not necessary like styles), affinity for one another. Finding the right GSG is the same as picking a tennis partner.

  1. Buying into the Vision

The GSG must be able buy into the vision, see its merit and visualize its execution. GSGs by nature are grounded in reality. This is their strength. Not only can the GSG recognize a great idea or concept but can see potential pitfalls and solutions, unlike the visionary, who deals in the abstract.

  1. Commit, Commit, Commit

Once the GSG has found the vision and visionary of his liking, the true GSG will take every step conceivable to bring the vision to successful completion. This dogged determination to succeed is a common trait of the GSG. Once the commitment has been made, the GSG will not accept failure. Failure is never contemplated.

  1. Thinking Outside of the Box

The beauty with working with a true visionary, and is inherent in the term, is that what is being tried has never been tried before. This is the thrill and challenge for the GSG. Finding ways and procedures to accomplish things, which have not been tried before, is what drives the GSG.

  1. Self Direction (Leave me alone I’m thinking)

The GSG is self-directed. Once the marching orders have been given the game begins. The GSG is writing the rules as he goes. He/she understands that the ultimate success is on his/her shoulders.

So forget all the stock options, all the recognition, all the stress of knowing your job is on the firing line. Be a great #2 and stick around a lot longer!