Picture this: you’re the leader of an organization that’s profitable, has a command over the industry and has a sizeable piece of market share, shareholder value and confidence is at its peak and growing, you’re surrounded by a talented group of individuals who are passionate and the ‘best’, and the future is looking extremely bright. And one fine day you decide to walk away from it all and move on!

It’s probably less alarming when leaders move on from organizations that are on unstable grounds. You’re either made to or decide yourself that it’s time to call it quits. But when things are working so well and are so good would you move on?

When Is It the Right Time?

After Argentina’s football team lost the COPA America cup final Lionel Messi decided it’s time he stepped aside for another captain to try and bring home glory. He’s rated as the best footballer in the world, and yet he hasn’t been able to lead the team to a major win. But many argue that he’s still the best person to lead the team and should reconsider.

David Cameron made the decision to step down as UK’s Prime Minister as he felt he wasn’t the right person to lead the country into the future. His decision was based on the people’s vote to leave the EU, though he didn’t really have to leave.

In 2013, Warren East decided it was time for him to move on from being the CEO of ARM Holdings, the world’s largest microchip designer. He left at a point where he had spearheaded the company to a value of over USD 20bn and a 12-year high share price. Why’d he do it? Because he felt it was time a younger leader stepped up and brought newer ideas to the organization. Did he have to leave? No.

So when is it really the right time for a leader to move on? Is it when you’ve given your best and have nothing more to contribute? Is it when the needs of the many supersede the needs of one leader? Is it when you know your vision has reached a glass ceiling and someone else could steer the organization to a brighter future?

I feel there really isn’t such a thing as “the right time”. It’s more about when the organization needs fresh, new thought and strategies to act as a catalyst for even greater success.

Making That Brave Decision

If you were to make that brave decision to move on and step down as a leader, what’s next for you? First, you should be able to look back proudly and reflect on a successful and accomplished leadership legacy. What else did you work so hard for over the years if it wasn’t to leave behind a legacy that people will remember you by? A legacy that’s embedded into the organization’s core.

Second, if you really are going to move on, you need to decide would it be in a different capacity within the organization – think of Bill Gates, who stepped down as CEO of Microsoft and created a position for himself as the Chief Software Architect. Or would you join another organization which you can bring value to as its new leader – think of Eric Schmidt who left as the CEO of Novell and became Google’s CEO.

Obviously, you’ll need to think this through. And while it’s important to know figure out what you’ll do next, it’s equally important to be succeeded by someone who truly can further build upon your legacy. And if you’re the new leader, you have some big shoes to fill and some challenges ahead of you.

Challenges New Leaders Face

Without a doubt, you as the new leader are going to be challenged. You could be joining at a point when the organization isn’t doing too well in which case you have your work cut out for you. On the other hand, you could be taking over the reins of a very successful and charismatic leader. Sure the organization may be doing well, but let’s be honest here, you still have challenges lined up for you. Here are three of them.

1. Winning Employees’ Confidence

People are aligned to leaders and not companies. Hence, it’s paramount for you, as the new leader, to align people to you. Some may welcome you, while others will take you head on. But if you really want to make this transition successful you’ll need people to be aligned to your vision and strategies. People to believe in you and believe that you will lead them to further successes.

2. Deciphering What to Remold

If you’re taking charge of a sinking ship you know what you must do – dissect and revamp every process, product and function. However, if you’re jumping on a well-oiled machine that has solid values, culture, processes and procedures you’ll need to be pragmatic, calculated and bold to alter things that suit your leadership style – if you want to change anything in the first place.

3. Figuring Out What’s Next

At the heart of it, what’s really expected from you as the new leader isn’t related to operational matters. Things are and have been operating well. What you need to figure out is the next big strategy that everyone can believe in, follow and work to achieve. That is the biggest challenge and if you can overcome this, you’ll be long remembered as a brilliant leader!

Leaving a successful leadership position in a successful organization is probably the biggest decision you can make. It’s a shocking revelation – for you, your team, your family, and everyone that’s associated and linked to your leadership. But on the other hand, the decision to move on can be an exciting one as well. It may just be the catalyst your life’s vision needs.

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