The announcement of Arsene Wenger finally leaving Arsenal seems to be more than a relief than a shock. It is a saga that has been dragging on for a few years and all generated by the club's lack of success and clear deterioration as a team that others once feared.
The question around whether long tenure is a thing of the past for leaders, coaches and CEO's is a genuine one and the answer appears to be a firm yes. From our perspective, as an executive search firm, the average life expectancy for these roles seems to be around 5 years. I think the reason behind this is a mixture of companies keen to freshen up their leadership and put a new person at the helm to take on the challenge of the next phase of its strategy. This is mixed with the leader's ambitions for personal progression and appetite to be thrown into new challenges. Unless you are a huge corporation which can deliver this personal development, it is likely that these leaders will be more transient than ever before and seek their new challenges with new employers.
Knowing what to expect will help you to plan. Don't be caught cold or feel rejected by this trend of leaders reducing the once "job for life" tenure.
The trend of the end of the legacy CEO—think General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and Dow Chemical, all of which had unusually long-tenured leaders who have either stepped down or announced the intention to step down in the last year—is spilling over into sports. Over the weekend, Arsene Wenger announced his resignation as manager of the English Premier League’s Arsenal after 22 years. (Wenger will coach the clubs remaining games this season, including its big Europa League semifinal clash this week.) Similarly, in the United States, Tom Coughlin, who coached the New York Giants football team for 12 years, and Joe Girardi, who coached the New York Yankees baseball team for nine seasons, both vacated their positions in the past few years.