Signs that it is Time for an Executive to Leave a Position

As an executive you may also reach a stage when you know it is time to leave a position. It seldom is an easy decision. At this level the financial implications are great. But clearly there are occasions when the choice is quite obvious.

Difficulty to relate to the executive team

It seems unlikely that this can happen, but it does. There are occasions when it is a challenge for a newly appointed executive to relate to their peers. This is particularly relevant when the existing team has been together for an extended period of time. Naturally it takes time to adapt and build relationships at this level. But breaking into a new group that has solid relationships is not easy. Sometimes it requires too much time and effort. A new executive may feel like an outsider. As a result you may reach a stage where you know it is time to leave a position and find something else.

Subtle power games

Various executives have spoken to me about how political relationships become the higher up you progress in an organisation. Some executives are very successful at evading power games. Others are on the receiving end of very subtle interpersonal dynamics. So if a company is very politicised, it could make life difficult for you if you have strong values or prize integrity highly. Power games can be an indicator that it is time to leave.

Poor values fit

Companies are not always run on strong ethical principles. During a research project two executives shared stories of leaving companies where the CEOs were not open and honest. Even though the one executive was offered a very good position he did not like the values of the organisation. What the leadership preached and how they behaved was not congruent. This was a clear sign to him that it was time to leave.

Not being fully utilised in a role

One senior manager joined a company. After months it was obvious to him that he was not being used in the role for which he was appointed. Promises had been made to him, but nothing materialised. He felt he was being excluded from important meetings and decision making processes. Initially he thought it was because he needed to build credibility with the managing director. But six months down the line he began to feel that nothing was going to change. So he decided it was time to leave and find an opportunity where his contribution is valued.

Your soul’s calling

Sometimes executives reach a stage where they feel they have other priorities. For example, a female executive may find she would rather be at home with her teenage children. Or an executive may become aware of how precious life is and decide to focus more on projects that he is passionate about.

More executives realise it is not good for their health to remain in a high powered postions for long. Consequently they may decide after a few years that it is time to leave and explore other interests instead.

In each of these cases the individual involved experienced some inner turmoil in reaching their final decision. Most had to weigh up the financial implications as well as the impact on their well-being and families. For each it was a lonely inner process because they felt they could not trust anyone else to share their inner turmoil.

Are you facing a crossroads at the moment? Do you need to make a career decision in the next while? Would you value an objective sounding board?

Coaching would be of benefit to explore the implications of the various options available to you.


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Posted in Business, Decision making.