The Leadership in Leaving: Reflecting on Your Organizational and Personal Readiness

Interviews and surveys with long-term nonprofit leaders reveal the considerable tensions at play when making and carrying out the decision to leave an organization.  At the center, the leader experiences both personal and organizational pressures. For example, a leader may feel that she is ready to give up the burden of caring and feeding the organization; at the same time, she worries that if she leaves the organization will not raise the money it needs to make it through the next several years. These forces make the decision to exit especially difficult.  Leaders have to assess their organization’s future needs, while at the same time grapple with personal questions, including what to do next and how leaving will change his or her identity. 

This tool will take you through a checklist to help you explore the various forces at play in your own decision-making.  It will help you identify where you might focus your energy to prepare at the organizational level, as well as a sense of how ready you are to let go on a personal level. Most of all, these simple questions are meant to provoke your own thinking on how to assess your readiness to either engage in discussions about leaving or to take the leap and make a move towards your next stage of work and life.

Think of this tool as a starting point and as a basis for discussion.  You may want to use it just for personal reflection, or you may want to share it with colleagues either within or outside of your organization.   Additionally, if you keep a copy of your answers you can use them for comparison over the time as you answer these questions again and see how you’re progressing.

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