Exiting Leadership 

I just posted this comment to an internal blog and thought I'd share it with you as well. It was in response to an article about How To Exit Leadership, the point of which was basically succession planning and letting go. The original post can be seen at HBSP. The internal post was posed by someone considering his eventual exit as leader of a special interest group within the company. He asked for perspective from others of us internally and here is my response...

I had two recent semi-exit experiences. First, I was coordinator for the P&G CoRec Softball League for 5 years. As I got more involved in other activities, I decided to "exit". This was my first real experience with exiting leadership and I failed miserably - the league almost disappeared. Okay, so it wasn't really that bad, but participation did take a dip. There was no board, no stearing team, and certainly no clear plan of succession. I handed over the role with one transition meeting to the only volunteer who responded. Granted, I continued to participate in the league and gave a little guidance here and there. In the end, we maintained the status quo. Two years later, this coordinator came back to me basically indicating that he was ready to exit. He was less prepared to handle succession than I was and I let him put the job back in my lap. This time I have selected a young talent whom I believe to have great leadership potential. My hope is that he will revive the league and maybe even take the league places we have never been. I also plan to more actively mentor him on leadership and succession planning. Hopefully the next coordinator will be identified and groomed before the next exit.

My second experience was with the YWCPS. As the Volunteer Chair, I built and utilized a committee. I was lucky enough to have many capable leaders on that committee and one of them became my successor. I am still close enough to provide feedback when she asks for it, but she is already running the committee better than I ever did. The only thing I hope to do differently in my new role as Marketing Chair (in addition to improving my leadership) is to identify and groom potential successors earlier.

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