What’s your exit strategy?
Are you talkin’ to me??”
If you are about to jump ship or you're plotting to move your career elsewhere in the next 3 to 5 years, then I’m talking to you. Here is a serious question that you should be consistently considering:
How will your leadership be regarded after you have left this job and hit the high road?
In considering your leadership legacy and beginning to work on an exit strategy, you need to be concerned with three things: your ideas, your initiatives, and your people.
I’m sure you’ve had some great ideas and maybe even implemented several of them, but will they persist after you’ve gone? Will your initiatives and the people on your team shine when you are not there to mentor them anymore? What is your legacy going to be once you are no longer there? Next are three things to think about in building that better legacy.
Every leader has the responsibility to come up with creative problem solving ideas that are supposed to keep things running smoothly, trim expenses, and generate income. Some positions require a lot more ideas than others. Some workplace environments are more conducive to change, while others are more reluctant to the concept of implementing “new & improved” ideas. As a leader, your ideas matter. Let’s take a look at the ones you have already created. Are these ideas sticking around after you’re not pushing them anymore?
Are these ideas dependent upon you or did you build them with longevity and a legacy in mind? A great leadership legacy has tried and true ideas that stand the test of time.
Structuring change so that a smooth implementation is engineered with collaboration and buy-in from all quarters involved is key to a successful roll-out. Just like with any strong structure that is built to last, it is also foundational to the long term success of your project after you’ve moved on that its implementation was embraced. Perhaps you wrote the product launch procedure, you developed the new marketing communication program, or you’ve created the strategy for increased client sales.
How are you rolling it out to the team and to the company such that it is effectively communicated and designed for all involved? Who else was involved in it’s development?
How much are you involved day to day and what happens when you go on vacation? A great leadership legacy is built with plans that roll out smoothly so that foundations are built with strength and durability.
It’s inevitable that some on your team will require more hand holding than others. What about those whose goal is to take over your job? Are you afraid of that occurrence and are trying to thwart their efforts? Or are you grooming them for the future with confidence and poise? If you have in mind securing a great leadership legacy, you will be asking yourself compelling questions that allow you the freedom to leave gracefully.
Ask yourself: “How am I helping the right person achieve eventual success in my current position?” And.. “Who is next in line to take over my position and responsibilities when I have moved on?
Preparing your team through training and mentoring in addition to providing critical information is key to setting them up for success when you’re gone. I’ve found that allowing those working for you to spin and toil on their own problems a little while and allowing them to come up with their own solutions helps them grow more quickly than if I had stepped in to intervene immediately. Similarly I try to bring in others on big initiatives to help them learn the process of development.
Some of us truly are indispensable and control information critical for our position. How are you making this available and easy to understand for the one who follows you?
The mark of a great leader is the legacy one leaves behind.
How your company survives and recovers from your absence is a tribute to your leadership.
Are you setting up your company for success in the long term? What is your exit strategy?
Will the company remain strong and not falter upon your departure?
Article originally published by me on the Linked 2 Leadership blog, June25, 2009