CEO Health Should be Part of Ongoing Succession Planning Discussions

Many other executives have waited to go public until they could report good or better news, while other companies have made such disclosures only upon the CEO’s death.

“I think they either don’t want to admit they are ill because it will cause concern for the company, or … they don’t disclose it because they don’t have a succession plan in place,” Lex Perryman, a management expert at the University of Washington, told the Times.

“Dimon’s health scare should serve as a reminder to other CEOs and business owners to review both their internal policies, as well as their directors’ and officers’ insurance policies.”

But mega-financier Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, disclosed in the spring of 2012 that he had prostate cancer. And former Intel CEO Andy Grove went public in 1996 about his own prostate cancer in a startling first-person essay in Fortune.

In any event, Dimon’s health scare should serve as a reminder to other CEOs and business owners to review both their internal policies, as well as their directors’ and officers’ insurance policies.

Nothing can create fears among corporate constituents about the company’s future leadership more quickly than disclosure of a crippling illness in the CEO. Because it can come on suddenly, such news can be much more damaging than, say, a garden-variety decline in job performance.

Illness is a by-product of life, and however difficult or emotional the conversation, the business issues surrounding the topic should be regularly discussed.