Knowing when to step down


We ALWAYS know when others should step down from positions of leadership, yet when the person in question is us, there are often many conflicting thoughts.

From a personal perspective, I’ve recently had to have the same conversation with myself. This was after a friend pointed out that although I may have been feeling emotionally disengaged; I have to consider the possible damage this would cause to my legacy.

I suddenly felt the need to spend a fair amount of time considering why I am doing the things I do, what values and beliefs they symbolized and whether those beliefs I hold are still true.

In relaying my woes to my coach, she said I should consider the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) factor. In short, I need to figure out whether where I am still served me and how I can add value to myself as well as be of service to others.

Rob Asghar, in his Forbes article on knowing when to go, states that “there is a universal tendency among leaders to hurt their own cause by clinging to power.” He goes on to say – “George Washington’s greatest contribution to a young American nation wasn’t his strategic ability or his wartime fortitude but it was his insistence that, in order for America to be a viable democracy, it needed leaders who were willing to step aside.”

This sounds so poetic, yet somehow balancing this against the fear of a tarnished legacy I can see how it happens that great leaders stay long enough to see themselves become the “bad guys”.

It’s in acting from a negative place that this happens. Negativity is insidious, it permeates all the good we have done and before we know every single thing that we once did right and well becomes tainted.

I want to be remembered for the good things I’ve done. I want them to remember me for the passion and commitment I showed in the direction of the things that mattered to me. I care about people, I am obsessed with being an agent of change and I want to have made an eternal impression in the lives of others. I want to inspire them to make more of themselves than they ever thought was possible.

It was Nelson Mandela who said that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

That is my big why, my purpose, my dharma.

Now equipped with this awareness, I am able to conduct a self-analysis on a deeper, more meaningful level the outcome of which will enable me to remain relevant, create a new environment and in going about these things I would be growing both my knowledge base and my networks.


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