There is nothing wrong with quitting something – and yet that word alone feels defeating. To quit can feel like failure. I have a lot of clients who are wrestling with transition right now. Some are questioning leaving their positions despite not having something else lined up. Others are facing changes they are not sure they want to tolerate. I would say the majority of my clients consistently ponder if they are the right fit – do they have what it takes to lead through all the uncertainty and complexity of this day and age? I often answer by saying, “If not you, who?” It’s not like there is this massive bench of qualified leaders hanging out without jobs who have been there and done this or that and ready to take over. The majority of good leaders are employed, and all are facing unique challenges they have not encountered before. And let’s face it, more years of experience do not necessarily mean more expertise to handle the volatility or ambiguity industry, government, healthcare, and education face today. Everything is a new type of hard.
For my colleagues and clients who are struggling and considering change – do what you can to end your seasons or stages strong. Even if it feels mid-stream, mid-project, mid-year, mid-chaos, mid-insanity. All of our sacrifice, tolerance, and meticulous planning will never change the fact that there is never a perfect time to leave a leadership position. It is also possible to stay too long and endure levels of suffering that are not reasonable or appropriate. Trust yourself to know when the time is right and then do what you can to finish in a way that suggests you were not focused on ridding yourself of something undesirable. Instead, you allowed your leadership to come to completion so that other good things could happen. Those things can be:
- Making way for the next right leader
- Taking a break for self-care and family
- Pursuing the next season of your career
- Finding new opportunities that can only be found through change.
Given the challenges facing our leaders today, we need to ensure a steady level of energy and passion. For some, they can stay in the same role for decades and not lose passion. Others have a constant appetite for change that involves moving to different organizations. There are pros and cons to both, and for those who need to leave to lead – finish first. It will feel much better to bring something to completion versus ridding yourself of something you do not want anymore.