I watch the ripples change their size; but never leave the stream…David Bowie
Reflecting on the recent municipal election, I wonder what drives individuals to “leave the stream”; to put one’s self out there and run for public office. It takes a special kind of person to willingly subject one’s self and one’s family to scrutiny, verbal attacks on one's personality and beliefs, and the loss of privacy. Not to mention the countless hours, phone calls, text messages and emails from staff and constituents once elected! Are they driven by power and/or by the desire to do good? Most I suspect are driven by the belief that things need to change.
What really happens when the leaders of a municipality or of an organization change? According to NextBridge Consulting, “anytime someone leaves a work group it’s disruptive to the group but when a senior leader leaves, the organizational shock waves can really knock you back.” The leader sets the vision, direction and culture of the organization so when that leader leaves, people start to question.
- What else is going to change?
- Who else is going to leave?
- What does this mean for me?
People personalize the exit. What does this mean for me? Will I still have a job? What if my job changes? What if I don’t get along with the new leader? What if the new leader takes us in a direction that I don’t like?
Not all exits are planned. In politics there is a transition period; in organizations there may or may not be one. So what is a leader’s responsibility towards change? Prepare, prepare, prepare. Prepare a strong strategic plan that will outlast your tenure. Prepare your people by ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to continue to add value after you leave. Prepare your peers, partners and customers by building their confidence in your team.
This will become your legacy - but remember, it is their future.
Kudos to all those who stepped up and ran for public office this past election. Kudos to all those who step up to leadership.