Will They Be Sorry To See You Leave?

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“Some people brighten a room when they enter it; others when they leave.”

You’ve probably heard this quotation or some variation of it. I have no idea who said it originally, but it certainly is true. I’m sure you know people on both sides of the semicolon. Today I’d like you to consider a slight variation, this one mine:

“Some leaders brighten a workplace when they enter it; others when they leave.”

Some leaders brighten a workplace when they enter it; others when they leave. #leadership Click To Tweet

The question, of course, is: which one are you?


I worked at several TV stations back in my television days. At one of these stations, there was a news director whom I’ll call Voldemort — Voldy for short — (although his real name was Bob).

Voldy was very possibly the most loathsome, and the most loathed, man I have ever known in person. His favorite leadership pastimes were, in order:

  1. Berating people in public
  2. Firing people (preferably in public)
  3. Berating people in private

On the day that Voldy finally (and inexplicably) got a job somewhere else, you could have heard the celebratory cheering five blocks away. Everyone in the building — even those like me who didn’t even report to Voldy — was elated that he was finally gone!

Now let’s take a look at your world. I want you to imagine that you’ve gotten a new job with a new organization and that today is your last day with your current team. Everyone is congratulating you and wishing you well in your new position. It’s what we do, as polite human beings.

But how are they going to feel tomorrow?

Will they be gleefully celebrating your departure with confetti and parades and non-stop cheering? Or will they be sad, knowing that they’ve just lost one of the best bosses, best leaders, and best people they’ve ever known?

If your answer is the former, then I’ve got good news. Just like Ebenezer Scrooge, you can change your ways.

Look, a leader doesn’t have to be liked to be effective (and if you’re not effective, then none of this really matters, does it?). But you don’t have to be disliked either. Think of it this way:

You can be an effective leader and be loathed by most. Or, you can be an effective leader and be loved by most.

One of these is more personally fulfilling (and, I would argue, more effective). Unless you truly are Voldemort, I would argue that it’s the second one.

The bottom line is that you get to choose. Every day, you get to choose. I’d like you to make it a conscious choice — every day. Every day, I want you to ask yourself this question about your team:

“If today were my last day here, would they be sorry to see me leave?”

If today were your last day with your team, would they be sorry to see you leave? #leadership Click To Tweet



About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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