One of the toughest things for a CEO or business leader to handle is their own transition plan. When you’re in the everyday running of a business, it’s difficult to instinctively know when it’s time to get out of the way. To that end, we’ve come up with a list of five current CEOs that should transition themselves out of the head cheese role.

  1. Bob Nardelli—Home Depot. Good old Bob has managed to screw up one of the best home improvement retailers in the land by taking away customer incentive programs and overdoing cost cutting measures. High level management changes haven’t addressed the root of the problem—Nardelli! Is it any wonder Lowe’s has become the preferred home improvement retailer?
  2. Michael Cherkasky—Marsh McLennan. This guy has seemed to be out to lunch on repeated conference calls and doesn’t seem to understand the company’s business. Revenue has flattened the past three years, and Putnam has declined tremendously. It’s time for someone who understands the business model to take over the helm and get this company growing again.
  3. Meg Whitman—E-Bay. Meg is more concerned with crashing the upscale “benefit” (term used very loosely) circuit and being liked than she is capitalizing on E-Bay’s unique position in the market. They have virtually no competition, but they could do so much more with their cash than an undesirable acquisition of Skype which E-Bay vastly overpaid. That poor decision in itself is enough reason to make a change at the top.
  4. James Tobin—Boston Scientific. The Guidant purchase should seal this guy’s fate all by itself. Talk about an acquisition that made little sense and didn’t contribute to any corporate “synergies.” This bad deal was all created when Johnson & Johnson initially bid on Guidant then backed away once Boston Scientific decided to overbid in their haste to acquire another company. Guidant had all sorts of lawsuits surfacing as others were bidding so it’s a puzzle why both companies didn’t immediately retract their bids and walk away to leave Guidant to figure out their own legal problems. Kudos to J&J for ultimately outfoxing Boston Scientific and James Tobin!
  5. Terry Semel—Yahoo. Yahoo has been slow to act as Google continues to gain world dominance in the search arena. Yahoo should be strategizing for growth and considering buying smaller niche companies, but the management seems to be absent minded to doing anything. Message to Terry: sell the company to Microsoft and enjoy the proceeds.

There you have our short list of CEOs that ought to start their succession planning now if their companies are to return to the glory days of eye-popping growth.

Have comments? We’d love to hear from you.