Managing Your Energy: How to Depart an Executive Role
Succession planning before a transition
As an executive, preparing for a smooth transition out of your role can start years before the actual departure. By building a team that can support your eventual departure, you can ensure that your team and the company will be able to continue functioning smoothly. It’s important to identify your direct reports’ areas of improvement and encourage them to develop those skills in performance reviews. You can also delegate tasks to your team and run an audit of your recurring meetings to identify areas where your team can take the lead. By going on long vacations and delegating your roles, you can also test your team’s ability to operate without you.
Making the decision to leave
Deciding to leave an executive role can be challenging as it can impact your reputation and the team and company around you. If you’re grappling with the intersection of identity and frustration, ask yourself these four questions:
1. Has your rate of learning significantly decreased?
2. Are you consistently de-energized by your work?
3. Can you authentically close candidates to join your team?
4. Would it be more damaging to leave in six months than today?
It’s important not to make decisions based solely on how much money you believe you’ll lose by leaving. Instead, consider the potential impact on your team’s careers and whether you’re comfortable continuing to negotiate with the current management team. Being an executive is ultimately about effecting change from within, so even if you leave, you still bear some responsibility for the organization’s steps, even the ones you disagree with.
How to think about short executive stints
It’s common for executives to worry about short stints on their resumes. However, rather than focusing on the optics, consider the value you gained from that role and whether it’s worth staying longer. If you’re consistently de-energized and your rate of learning has decreased, it may be time to move on.
Whether to line up another role before leaving
While it can be tempting to want to have a new job lined up before leaving your current position, it’s not always necessary. If you’re confident in your skills and experience, you may be able to take some time off to find the right opportunity. However, lining up another role before leaving can provide a sense of security during the transition.
Telling the CEO
When you’ve made the decision to leave, it’s important to meet with the CEO and share your decision. Be clear about your reasons for leaving, but avoid being overly negative or critical. Offer to help with the transition, and be prepared to answer any questions the CEO may have.
Negotiating the exit package
Depending on your situation, negotiating an exit package can be an opportunity to minimize your downsides. Be realistic about what’s negotiable and what’s not, and be clear about your expectations. Remember that this negotiation is ultimately about creating a smooth transition for your team and the company.
Transitioning out and actually leaving
Once you’ve negotiated your exit package and prepared your team for the transition, it’s time to make a clean break. Avoid lingering and tying up loose ends, as this can make it harder for the team to move on.
Indecision: handling the hardest aspect of all
Indecision can be the hardest aspect of leaving an executive role, especially when it comes to considering the impact on your team and the company. However, by managing your energy and focusing on preparing them for your eventual departure, you can create a smooth transition and ensure that everyone is set up for success.