It may seem odd to correlate leadership with leaving an organization. The best leaders leave with grace, and for the right reasons. A soon to retire, C-level leader recently told me he received the most beautiful e-mail from the wife of one of his direct reports. The e-mail was glowing, thanking him for being the best leader her husband had ever known. She went on to describe how much his leadership meant to both of them. Now if that’s not a tribute to good leadership, I don’t know what is. As I’ve said before, leaders are measured by the people who are following them.

We’d all like to believe that leaders happily retire into the bright blue skies of a beach with unlimited umbrella drinks in hand. However, the truth is they leave for a reason: It’s time to let go.

The need to let go of something can happen for a variety of reasons, but if you find yourself in any of these situations, it just might be time.

1. Your vision of success for your team or the organization is at odds with higher management.

This one can be particularly painful, because you basically have to admit that you aren’t going to win. However, I would ask the question:  What is winning in this situation? Sometimes winning in your life and gaining peace of mind is more important than proving others wrong in the workplace. If the cost of the conflict is costing more personally than you are willing to give, it’s time to move on.

2. You’ve fully developed your team and by staying, you create a barrier to their continued development and upward mobility.

Have you ever had that leader who’s been around forever, before computers were a part of the workplace, and everyone is stuck with nowhere to go until he retires? Are you that person? If you’ve really developed your people, you’ll feel good about leaving the organization in their fully capable hands. Chances are, your retirement benefits count on it.

3. You’re not having any fun anymore.

This may be manifesting as not wanting to get up in the morning, dreading the workday, or just not caring enough to drive those initiatives. If you aren’t motivated, it will show eventually. At some point, you need to admit that it’s not the right fit any longer. Moreover,  it will be best for all parties if you find something you are more passionate about.

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