When It Is Time…

Have you made enough money by now to see you through retirement and beyond? Are you hanging onto to your position mostly to increase your net worth in hopes of bigger houses, faster sports cars, more expensive ways to look and feel younger?  When you are no longer motivated to lead, you just don’t feel it anymore. You feel increasingly disconnected and isolated from those you are leading.  Your prime interest is to meet and socialize with people at least at your level or those that in your view are even richer and more powerful than you.  Gone are the days when you were out there amongst your team, circulating, answering their questions, rolling up your sleeves and pitching in, and connecting personally with each of them to know their motivations.  Now you are focused on how Wall Street views you.  You are used to the attention you get from the outside when you attend events where people point to you and want to get next to you, to elevate your ego even higher.

If you are relating to this narrative, it might be time to consider handing the baton to someone else.  Remember, that used to be you waiting.  You were hoping for the opportunity to show where you could take the organization. You had a vision, you were motivated, and you could not wait to get to work to execute your vision.   You thought, given the chance, you could personify the voice, aspirations and dreams of your team.  Your team, in turn, was elated to see you elevated.  They knew you, trusted you, believed in you, and thought you were their best hope.  It was the perfect opportunity.

But now it’s time to honor your intuition.  To be present to your feelings and thoughts.  Your destiny is calling to you to enter the next phase where you will again bring vision, passion and your best self.  To cling on to power in your current position is to break your vow of leadership.  You will block another who is ready to run the next lap with vision and passion.

It takes courage authenticity and ethics to relinquish the throne, but it’s the right thing to do and it’s how you will want to be remembered.  Your legacy could be that of an authentic leader.  One that tells his team that he has moved on and is being pulled by other interests in his/her life.  A leader who recognizes the talent and potential of her successor and will do all she can to enable it… Or your legacy could be one of a leader who clings to power for personal wealth or power at any cost.  One who lives in his own world rather than focusing on what is best for those who have entrusted their careers and aspirations to him.

Here is how one leader made the right decision.  She had accomplished and exceeded all expectations.  Raised in a male-dominated family in a country where women were expected to marry, raise children and be financially dependent on their husbands she worked her way up to become the CEO of  a global organization.  Through reflection and self-discovery she realized that her passion had become to start a foundation in her home country dedicated to helping outstanding young women to achieve their leadership potential.  She convened the organization and told them that she was being pulled by a powerful and undeniable higher power.  She told them she felt as if the vision was vicariously passing through her and destiny was calling on her to do this work for others who found themselves in the same predicament she once did.  One that she was prepared and motivated to change for other young women.  She told them no human being should experience the humiliation and frustration she once felt.  She thanked her team whole heartedly for their part in the organization and her success.  She told them she would never forget them, that they would always be in her thoughts, and that she would do whatever she could to support them.  She then introduced her successor by saying that he personifies everything she had ever hoped for in a successor.  She provided specific examples and then turned over the microphone to him.

So, which legacy do you chose?

Questions for Online Conversation

  • Do you relate to this dilemma? Do you know leaders that do?
  • What will you do? What did they do?
  • If you are not there yet, what will you do when you get there? Be honest.
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