It can take a long time to get to the top of the corporate ladder. So when you are finally a director or a C-level executive, we understand that you will want to stay with the company for as long as possible.
However, working for the same company for a long time may neither be in the best interests of the company nor for you. There can be some signs showing you it’s time to step aside and let some new blood take over. If you insist on staying in your position with the company, you could risk damaging the fortunes of the organisation along with your own reputation.
Some of the world’s wealthiest and most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs have stepped down early to make way for younger successors. These include billionaires Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and Jack Ma, the man behind Alibaba. Both Gates and Ma turned their attention to philanthropy, using their wealth and innovation to improve education and healthcare in communities that need additional support.
But when would it be a good time for you to seek other opportunities for your professional growth which could also be more fulfilling?
4 tell-signs when you should leave your role.
1. when you’ve contributed to your best ability
Since you took the helm, the business has stabilised and continued to grow. The ability to attract talent and employee retention rate have both improved as well. You have a capable management team that can steer the ship through any external threats in the future.
However, unless you bring in new blood with totally fresh and unexplored perspectives, there are very few ways that you can lead the team or company to push boundaries.
This happens a lot in the field of sports. A football manager wins a lot of trophies, slowly loses their magic touch but continues to ride off the back of their former glory for many seasons.
Rather than hang around until your performance starts to slip, quitting while you are ahead will be much better for yourself and the company.
2. when you lose command
In the age of digital transformation, many business leaders are constantly investing to drive innovation across the organisation. It has also resulted in companies offshoring functions to other parts of the world, where they can generate cost savings and productivity.
These changes, while good for business, can be very disruptive for you, especially if you have other priorities you have to attend to. There are inevitably going to be times that you don’t agree with some of those new directions.
If you work in a multinational corporation, many decisions are also made by global headquarters which may not always take your local operating office’s inputs into account. Some global firms also restrict the level of flexibility you can have in adapting global initiatives to their local markets. You may find your hands tied as you not only need to implement something new that you are not confident of but also which you have very little control over.
If negotiations fail with your global management, then it might be good to part ways before things get too ugly and relationships become irreconcilable.
3. when you receive a better offer
Once you become a prominent figure with a strong reputation, you can expect to receive multiple invites from recruiters looking to place you in a role with another company.
Most of the time, these roles may not excite you. But once you’re invited to an opportunity to interview with a prominent company that you’ve always wanted to work in, then it’s probably time to move on.
Hence our advice to you is to always be open to exploring new opportunities. When you are good at what you do, others will see it too and try to poach you for their organisation. While you shouldn’t jump at the first offer, don’t rule out new possibilities in different sectors, or even in other countries.
4. when you’re not being challenged
It happens easily enough. You start a job with lots of ambition and drive, and then you get comfortable and just drift along without challenging yourself. You may have even stopped acquiring any new skills, and simply doing the same thing day after day.
There may also be a lack of training opportunities within the organisation, be it on-the-job training or development programmes.
If you still want to grow professionally, then staying in a job that doesn’t offer you any learning opportunities will not make any sense. It could be time for you to call it a day.
be flexible about your options
Most C-level executives have been in the workforce for at least 15 years. You may be thinking about scaling things back, reducing your working hours or taking a seat on the board. This would free you up to follow some of your other passions while allowing fresh blood to get ready for bigger things.
There are a lot of flexibility options in the workplace these days for you to do just that. Bill Gates was one such leader who didn’t want to quit completely and there are many more CEOs like him. Even when he became chairman, he moved his attention to his charitable pursuits with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Rather than giving it up all at once to retire, slowly phasing out from your heavy responsibilities as a C-level executive can be a lot less disruptive to your lifestyle.
If you are looking for a new challenge with another company, or plan to take a step back and explore interim management, we are here to help. Contact us for a confidential discussion.