Change is the only constant in life. ~ Heraclitus Every job ends in a transition. The success of that transition depends on when, how and how well it's managed. When we're talking about a change in leadership, it can be a traumatic process for everyone in the organization. And, the longer a leader has been in place, the more challenges there may be for a successor.
I like to tell the CEOs I coach that part of leading well is leaving well. Part of an "exit strategy" is knowing how to prepare yourself and your organization for the impending change. Here are a few tips that may help you with transitioning out of your organization:
- Start early: transition takes time. If you are thinking of leaving, start planning. Review your organization's succession plan (you DO have a succession plan, don't you?), inform your board chair, and start the ball rolling.
- Take an active role: make a commitment to be part of the process, as much or as little as your board requests.
- Set a date and stick to it: it's much more difficult for your organization to plan for your departure if you keep changing the timeline. Even if it's 2 years in the future, it helps for everyone to have a goal for accomplishing the difficult task of replacing you.
- Continue to be a leader: Be professional as you prepare the organization, prepare your board and staff, and prepare yourself for what is coming next. Continue to show up!
- Manage internal and external communications: when appropriate, inform stakeholders, donors and others about your plans. Don't let gossip or social media leaks spread the word.
- Know when to express emotion: a planned departure allows you to celebrate your tenure and allows the organization to honor your legacy. It's OK to express your emotions about leaving.
- Leave gracefully and decisively: once your successor is identified, make your plans to step away. If you have been asked to assist in your successor's onboarding, do so and then finalize your transition.
I want to help you and your organization through its transitions. Please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.