Leaving Well: Fourth Question Leaders Leave Well

Leaving well. If you read my last post, Major Change, you would know the major change referred to in the title of

Waving – leaving well
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the post did not involve the leading of change as much as it was being the object of the change. Ultimately it was a journey of leaving well. Most often top tier leaders initiate and lead change which may have its greatest impact on others. Rarely does a leader initiate and lead change which has its greatest impact on the leader himself or herself. Of course, any change which deeply impacts on the leader will also have major effects on others in the organisation.

…any change which deeply impacts on the leader will also have major effects on others in the organisation

Events over the last twelve months put me in the position of leading change which had massive implications for myself and my family but which also had significant impacts on others. This involved a change in my career and a change in my geography. Late during last year I decided it was time for the school I led to have the benefits new leadership would bring. As a result, I tendered my resignation to the College Board. I was not responding to a better offer. In fact, I didn’t have any offer! Rather, I had had a growing awareness of the fact that it was time for me to step out of the Principal’s role over several years. I began to focus on leaving well.

I began to focus on leaving well.

After so long in a position and school which I founded and love very much I really wanteds to be leaving well. Leaving well for me seemed to involve making a choice to leave “from” rather than leave “to.” In my faith terms, in 1983 I believed that God called me to be a part of starting a Christian School and I responded to that call. In 2016 I believed that God was calling me out of the school. As soon as the news of my resignation spread I was humbled to receive a number of enquiries about my availability to take up leadership positions in other organisations. What remained was leaving well. You can read more of events leading up to leaving in my previous post.

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At a time when I knew I was going to be leaving and before I had told anyone of my decision, I had the privilege to organise and lead a professional development day with Dr Sam Chand. Dr Chand is one of the world’s leading writers and consultants in the area of leadership and organisational culture. Four schools from four different cities had pooled together to create the opportunity for key staff to spend time with Dr Chand. Before the day got under way I met with Dr Chand to discuss the logistics of the day. He asked me a number of questions and quickly learnt of what was going on in my life.

Dr Chand told me the story of his journey of leaving a long term position as President of an American Tertiary College. Once he had made the decision to leave what had been a very rewarding and successful part of his life, Dr Chand went looking for resources to help him leave well. He couldn’t find any. So, he catalogued his experiences as he left his position. He generously shared some of these with me. I will be forever grateful he did so, they helped me to ensure I was leaving well.

The ten key components of leaving well.

From my experience the ten key components of leaving well are…

  1. Personal certainty and decisiveness
  2. Face-to-face conversations prior to announcing departure
  3. Clear, positive, public announcement
  4. Transparency, honesty
  5. Thank you, sorry and goodbye
  6. Remaining positive and avoiding side negativity
  7. Asking for support for the new incoming leader
  8. Expressing hope and vision for the organisation beyond your tenure
  9. Handover if possible – clear documentation
  10. Leave cleanly

In the next couple of posts I will elaborate on the ten keys to leaving well.

As I mentioned in my last post, the experiences of the last two and half years will be providing a rich source of topics for this blog. If you had been reading the blog before my absence from writing and felt it was helpful, I hope you will reengage with me as I try to continue the journey of exploring how a Fourth Question Leader, a leader who intentionally leads in ways which put the interests of others first, navigates the complex waters of leading an organisation.


  • Leaving well requires deliberate, strategic thought.
  • The concept of leaving “from” rather than leaving “to.”
  • There are ten keys to leaving well.

Additional Resources

On Retiring and Changing Jobs: “Leaving Well” As a Spiritual Exercise

Leaving Well: 9 Steps to Shape Your Legacy

The Twelve

Sam Chand