At some point every leader has to face what is for many a difficult day—the day they are no longer the leader. Maybe they’re retiring or just slowing down or moving on to something new.
The reason for the departure isn’t as important as the work that precedes it. Every leader should have a succession plan in place. (Even if you’re young and plan to stay where you are, you should still prepare for the remote possibility of a sudden illness or accident.) If you haven’t yet made a plan, here are some guidelines that can help:
Take your time. A great plan can’t be put together overnight, but the time to start is today. Start by sketching out your areas of responsibility, the reporting and governance structure of your organization, and any parties—team members, colleagues, board members—you want to have input into your planning.
Groom those with potential. Identify the people in your organization you believe have the potential to be great leaders and begin to teach, coach and prep them. When you invest in your organization’s future leadership, your influence remains long after you’ve left.
Recognize your emotions (and understand they’re normal). As in many other areas, the best leaders are those who know how to manage their emotions. They don’t allow themselves to be blindsided; they give themselves healthy outlets for voicing and expressing what they’re feeling so when the day does come, the emotions aren’t overwhelming.
Map your second purpose. I believe our lives comes in stages. For many of us, the first purpose consists doing what’s expected of us, and our work life is driven by the arc of our career. When that stage is over we can move on to our second purpose, where things slow down and we spend our time on things that align with our values. It’s time to be intentional about where you spend your time and energy.
Let go and move on. Once you’ve decided to move on, the worst thing you can do is to not let go. Trying to keep hold of the reins leaves you—and everyone around you—in limbo. Especially if you’ve spent years or decades in control, it may be among the most difficult challenges of your life—that’s why you have to prepare far in advance.
Learn your lessons. Sometimes looking back can help you move forward. Reflect on all the struggles, the lessons you’ve learned, the strengths you’ve developed, all the connection and growth and regrets of your career as leader, and you’ll attain a greater awareness of yourself and where you’re headed.
When the day comes that it’s time to change seasons, it will be a much easier and more fulfilling transition if it’s handled with care for all concerned—yourself, your organization, and the new leadership.
Lead from within: Every succession plan will be different, but the only way to know what’s next is to be prepared long before the day arrives and it becomes difficult.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStock Photo
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.