What does it mean, when well-regarded leaders say they are done?
Just in the last month, Police Chief Todd Axtell of St. Paul and Police Chief Medaria Arrodondo of Minneapolis tendered their resignations. Both steered their departments through the difficult times of the pandemic and months of continued social unrest following the murder of George Floyd. Both were well-regarded by the communities in which they served, and by their own staffs.
I as well as many are sad and disappointed to see them go. We had hoped that they would see us through this next transition – the critical work of re-defining what public safety looks like going forward, and changing the culture of policing.
At the same time, I think I get it. On the one hand, after a lengthy career, a leader has probably both the experience and wisdom to deal with the hard stuff – having learned from the best and worst that life and people can bring. On the other hand, the energy it takes to do this work, and the mental and emotional exhaustion it creates, can take its toll. The need for new energy and new ideas is real. After thirty-one years in my own business, I can relate.
Every good leader innately knows when it is time to step back and let someone else take the reins, but it’s hard to do. It’s about recognizing when you are “done.” For instance:
- When what you came to do has been completed.
- When what it takes to get the organization to the next level is not what you can or want to provide.
- When you know in your heart that you owe it to yourself to do something different.
- When you are ready to welcome someone else to take the lead.
It takes courage to take this leap, to step into the abyss, and to trust that:
- You did the best you could to leave your organization a better place than when you walked in.
- The next generation of leaders is ready and willing to take on problems and issues with fresh perspectives, ideas, and energy.
- You, yourself, will find a new path that gives your life purpose and makes use of your wisdom and talents as much as you choose.
The graceful exit of one generation, and the welcome entrance of another – that’s what this is about. We welcome you, our next generation of leaders, and we look forward to where you will lead us!