Hanging on too long makes you irrelevant. Companies change. Leaders should grow too. You may not be the best person to lead your business forward. The skills that worked yesterday may not work today or tomorrow. Successful leaders know when to move-on. Are your strengths, the right strengths, to lead the organization tomorrow? How does a leader know when it’s time to step down and hand over the reins?
Here are 5 signs it might be time to step down from a leadership role. These are five things that you can look at to decide.
The stress is killing you.
Leading a team is tiring. All their problems, challenges, and failures are on you. If they make a mistake, you’ll be the first one to hear about it from upper management. As if the pressure from one side wasn’t enough, the people in your team also look up to you. You’re their mentor and the development of their career in the company is practically in your hands.
Because of constant pressure from all sides, you’re motivated to do your best. But the source of your motivation is also a great source of your stress. It’s because you care for your team and their performance.
Empathy is in short supply.
“The risks of turning insensitive and unkind to others increases as you become more senior,” Stanford professor Bob Sutton wrote in the McKinsey Quarterly. “Much research shows that being and feeling powerful provokes people to focus more on their own needs and wants and to become oblivious to others’ needs and feelings.”
Since empathy is the most crucial leadership skill one can possess, how you treat others is a red flag that it’s time to move on. After all, empathy creates a more loyal, engaged and productive workforce in your company. Developing this high emotional intelligence helps you to be more present.
Empathy can also impact how you communicate with others. For example, through empathetic listening, you’re in a better position to understand the person you’re talking with. If an employee is momentarily overwhelmed with work-life balance, then you might brainstorm ideas with them on how to solve these issues. Like a finely tuned leader, you may suggest a flexible schedule for a few months or suggest someone they could talk with professionally.
If you ignore customer feedback, then your business isn’t addressing its pain points. As a result, your customers will go to a competitor who will listen to them. If a leaders’ empathy is in short supply, the business will suffer in remarkable ways.
You are only good at leading small teams.
This is a typical entrepreneurial problem. Someone might be good at leading a small team through the early startup days and then realize, as the company grows, that he or she just can’t lead a huge organization. It’s a different skill set. Leading a small team is all about relationships and ideas. Leading a large team is more about strategy and vision, and can often become more of a financial leadership role.
The best leaders aren’t always the most obvious ones. You might not see them visibly taking command, owning the spotlight and taking credit for their successes. The best leaders have a passion for developing other leaders. They know when to take a step back and let others glow.