The Way We Say Goodbye, Is The Way We Will Be Remembered

Honor the space between no longer, and not yet.

NANCY LEVINE

As I have grown in my leadership and tried to do everything I can to build a great legacy with family, friends, and work, I began thinking about the best way to be remembered. After many conversations with leaders in various positions, I realized my legacy is based on what we say and how we say it. 

It is “The way we choose to say goodbye.” If you dig a little deeper into that phrase, the statement doesn’t focus only on the words we choose. Still, it also considers your actions during your limited time.

When we look to leave, most of us will be remembered in work and life for just a few words or actions that made a difference to others. 

So how do we say a good goodbye? Here are five things to consider in your transition.Ma

Make sure you successfully handoff of the baton.

Four runners running a mile can complete the distance much faster than one man.

The fastest runner can complete the mile in 4 minutes, but the relay team can complete the mile in 3.5 minutes, with each runner going full steam. A proper passing of the baton is the most crucial part of the race. 

The US Relay Team was the most talented in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing but lost the race because the baton was dropped. 

When thinking of leaving and transitioning our position, we must be excellent at handing the baton to our successor. So here are some thoughts on how to pass your baton effectively;

  • The one passing the baton must keep running full steam until the baton is passed.
  • There is a temptation to let up because you are tired…almost finished, but you have to keep at full speed.
  • The one receiving the baton must start running before he receives it. The receiver doesn’t begin from a standstill but is already moving to gain speed. The intent is the one receiving is going full throttle, just as the one who is handing it off. Both runners must remain in the same lane. To step out of the lanes is to forfeit the race. The one receiving the baton cannot have a different agenda. The baton must be passed in a timely fashion. There are two distinct lines on the track that designate precisely the area where the baton must be passed. It can’t be extended indefinitely.
  •  There is a beginning. There is an end. If the exchange is handled correctly, it’s possible to gain a step in the transition instead of losing a step. Since the one giving is reaching forward, and the one receiving is reaching back, there can be a jump step gained in the transition if done correctly.
  • Once the baton is exchanged, the one passing the baton does not run alongside the runner coaching him but stops, catches his breath, and walks across the infield to cheer his successor at the finish line.

 I think that’s some excellent insight on baton passing. So, an effective goodbye begins with a successful handoff

An effective goodbye in leadership transition must be the #1 priority of the present leader.

When you are going to make the transition, it has to be your #1 priority. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said this, “From now on, choosing my successor is the most important decision I’ll make. It will occupy a considerable amount of my time every day.” He spoke those words in 1991 -Nine years before his anticipated retirement

The successor should have some good years to run the organization.

Back to Welch again from his book STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT, Jack said, “I wanted to pick someone young enough to be in the job at least a decade. While a CEO can have an immediate impact, I’ve always felt people should live with their decisions, especially their mistakes. I certainly have. Someone with less time may be tempted to make some crazy moves to put his stamp on the company. I’ve seen too many examples of that.”

Say goodbye to everyone but leave an open line to your successor.

Jeffrey Immelt, who is the successor to Jack in General Electric, said, “The most important thing Jack can do right now so I can take the reins is leave. I can always call him and ask for his advice, but physically the business can only have one leader.”

Walk away, giving your organization the best chance for future success.

You want to walk away and give your organization the best chance to succeed. 

Dan Cathy, CEO at Chick-Fil-A, said this,  “When the rate of external change continually outpaces the rate of internal change, disaster is imminent.” 

When the rate of external change continually outpaces the rate of internal change, disaster is imminent

DAN CATHY

In other words, when we on the inside don’t keep up with the transition on the outside, it’s only a matter of time we are not going to be successful in life. 

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

I am not in the transition process; however, many of my colleagues and friends are either considering retiring or leaving their current position.  

Talking with people got me thinking about the transition process. And as a result, I encourage all of you to consider this information. Any transition requires a game plan. Start thinking now.

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

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