I have always thought that knowing how and when to leave is a great virtue at all levels, especially in leadership positions. However, I dare to say that it is a very rare skill today. In fact, we can see how many leaders have failed to leave at the right time and in the right way and consequently they have paid this mistake.
The case of some top-level politicians comes to mind for all of us, who had their golden age in which they enjoyed very high levels of prestige and reputation but who, due to their length in office, ended badly. I do not give you examples so as not to hurt any susceptibility but there are many examples in all political parties. It also happens in a similar way in business, sports, associations, etc. In addition, in many cases, these bad resignations contrast with previous stages of maximum splendor with really high levels of prestige and admiration, and then the fall is even stronger
KNOWING TO LEAVE IS FUNDAMENTAL and must be given the importance it deserves. In this sense, I recommend some ideas so that you can leave better:
- Start with a clear mission: tthat is, consider at the beginning of your responsibility what do you want to achieve, where do you want to go, where do you want to position your company, your party, your municipality … Work hard to achieve it, frequently measure how you are evolving in reference to your goal… When you reach it, you will have a clear clue that perhaps it is the right moment to leave. If, on the contrary, you do not reach your goal in a reasonable time, you may also need to consider leaving the project. So, review your mission and analyze where you are with respect to it.
- Frequently analyze your motivation levels (and those of your team). Motivation is essential to achieve any important challenge. On many occasions, levels of motivation are usually very high at the beginning of a project, but over time, with difficulties or when you discover that some things are not as you had imagined, it may happen that your level of motivation begins to drop. In this line, I recommend that you observe your level of motivation, that when it begins to drop, try to improve it, but if you do not succeed and it falls below the threshold that you consider to be the minimum necessary, it will be essential that you activate your exit plan. You should also monitor the level of motivation of your team. This level tends to evolve over time, but when your team is with low levels of motivation for a certain time, it will be another clear indicator that you may have to leave.
- Always have an alternative plan. This idea is fundamental. Many people do not leave their positions or their responsibilities because they do not have an alternative project, because they do not know what to do or where to go. I highly recommend that, from the first day in your new challenge, you start thinking and preparing your alternative project. Yes, from day one, when your motivation for the new challenge is very high is when you should start preparing your B plan. Many people only do it at the end of the project, when they are really in a hurry … and then it is usually too late.
- Be brave. Dare to leave the project at the right time. Be brave, resign, quit when the time is right. Surely, if you have done your homework well and have prepared yourself properly, you will know how to find the time and the way to do it. Because as the well-known Spanish quote, “when a door gets closed… a window gets opened”.
- Empower your personal brand. For me, the most important idea of this post (yes, maybe I’m not impartial but I really think about it that way). If you work well on your personal brand, if you are able to maintain your credibility and reputation, if you have a high level of awareness in your target audience, if you know yourself well (your strengths and weaknesses, your motivations, your dreams …) and if you communicate them properly, you will have many more chances to succeed. When the time to leave arrives you will have prestige and reputation, a good network of contacts … which will make it easier for you to find an alternative project (or will make it easier for a project to find you).
Knowing how and when to leave is essential. Do not fall into the mistakes that are so commonly made by leaving late and badly. I end with a quote that I heard years ago, that I don’t know the author, but I love it and it perfectly sums up what I wanted to convey to you with this post: “No reason to stay is a good reason to leave”.