Leading People Up And Out
This week a friend told me about an executive announcing that he was leaving his company after seven years to take a new position with an organization in a different industry. This executive had a passion for a particular kind of work he did not feel he could pursue in his current role.
Hearing the story, I reflected back upon the numerous occasions when a team member who worked with me told me he or she was leaving Georgetown Law CLE to take a position elsewhere.
Those occasions fell into one of two categories: those where I was surprised and disappointed and those where I was happy and not surprised at all. I can tell you from personal experience that, as a leader, I much preferred the second category.
Part of our job as leaders is to help our people grow. We want them to grow in knowledge, skills, and perspectives. I believe it is our obligation to create workplace environments where our teammates can blossom, regardless of their job descriptions, their ages or their backgrounds. We ought to be preparing them for the next stages of their careers.
During my 32 years at Georgetown Law, sometimes I worked alongside leaders who engaged in the opposite behavior. They would hoard their best people. They saw these people as reflections of them. They held onto them as long as possible to help themselves look good.
As leaders, we can be guardians of our team members’ professional journeys. It is our duty to help them grow and fulfill their potential. Frequently, there will come a time when we and they realize it is time for them to move on in order to fulfill their dreams and their professional destinies.
We can welcome that stage. We can provide advice and input. We can literally help them find the right opportunity. In these instances, we can serve as mentors even as they prepare to leave our workplaces.
This transition can only happen when we create psychological safety at work. People can be free to discuss with their managers their dreams and desires. We as leaders can promote honesty and openness in conversation.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with team members wanting to grow, even when they‘ve reached the conclusion that such growth mandates they seek employment somewhere else.
Please look in the mirror and ask yourself the question: “Am I the kind of leader who promotes the professional development of my teammates or am I the kind of leader who hoards them for my own benefit?”
I hope that your answer brings you satisfaction and fulfillment.