Chief executives such as Starwood Hotel’s Frits van Paasschen, Harriet Green of Thomas Cook and Allan Zeman, entrepreneur and head of Lan Kwai Fong Group, have made it to the very top of the corporate ladder, helming major multinational companies.

No doubt they’ve got plenty of sage advice to offer the next generation of CEOs and executives. CEO Guru host Steve Tappin grilled these executives for their best bits of hand-me-down wisdom for their would-be successors in the corner office.

What they had to say might surprise you. Hint: Don’t have a plan if you really want to succeed. Click ‘play’ to see what the trio of chiefs has to say.

To see more of what these CEOs had to say on this and other topics, view the entire season of CEO Guru.

To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.