It finally happened. Your carefully crafted elevator pitch, career documents, and interviewing techniques paid off and you’ve accepted a leadership position at a new company.
Don’t drop your guard just yet. You may be ready for the next stage in your career, but when you’re an integral part of the executive team, all eyes will be on your exit. A careless exit strategy could torpedo your credibility, negatively impacting your new role and burning bridges you may need down the road.
So how can you make a more graceful exit from a C-level position?
Must-Dos for Executive Exit Strategies
A quick or careless exit can undermine years of exemplary leadership, giving you a reputation for slapdash work or self-centeredness. Keep your professional reputation intact with these tips for a better executive exit.
Retain Your Perspective
They say that hindsight is 20/20, but your current role isn’t in the rearview just yet. Keep a healthy perspective regarding both yourself and your coworkers. Hold yourself accountable for mistakes you’ve made, consider the merits of your time as a leader, and don’t forget the people that helped you along the way. A careful contemplation of your time in this role will help you move forward with confidence and provide helpful insights as the company moves forward without you.
Honor Your Commitments
No exit strategy is perfect, but don’t let excitement over your new role or frustration with your old one derail your last days as a leader. Your departure will affect many of the people you’re leaving behind; wrap up as many loose ends as possible to ensure a smooth transition.
Finish up as many projects as feasible
Reach out to the executive board about ideal traits for your successor
Provide resources for your replacement
Prepare your staff for the transition
Support the executive team in onboarding a new leader
Come alongside the remaining leadership team to ensure a smooth transition, communicating clearly about your timeline and current capacity. Otherwise, you’ll wind up scrambling to train your replacement a week before your departure.
Lead Until the Last
Your staff depends on you as a leader, advocate, and professional resource. Don’t throw them to the wolves just because you’re moving onto greener pastures. Thank your team for their hard work, commitment to the company, and support for your leadership. Help smooth the transition for those who will be directly affected by your departure. Recognize that, in some scenarios, the departure of an executive will mean internal restructuring. Reassure your staff that they can depend on you to advocate for them, whether they need support in your remaining time as their leader or as a connection down the road.
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