There’s this thought that’s been eating at you. “Maybe I’m the problem.” Things just aren’t going quite right. You’ve tried everything. You’ve exercised patience and you’ve been resilient. You want to be there for the cause and the team, but frankly, you’re a little lost and very tired. We have the answer to your dilemma – JUST GO! Of course, you don’t need to pack up today, but think about what you could accomplish if you shifted your thinking to: “preparing my team for my departure – whether it’s in one month, six months, or one year.” Before you leave, take a moment to think about the worst that could happen. How do I mitigate that? Get excited about what could be made possible if you just got out of the way.

But what if it’s not you? How do you know? Here are signs you may be ready to go and why it’s the best gift you could give to your organization. Plus, we’ll give you tips on how to do it right.

I’m exhausted.

Initially brought in to be the change agent, you excelled at meeting that challenge. Folks are now asking ‘what’s next?’ You try to figure out the next big decision, but things just aren’t clicking. Here’s a secret: visionary leaders often don’t stay for the long-haul, and that’s ok! They come in when an organization is in need of transformation and once that foundation has been set, they move on to the next organization. Don’t be that visionary leader who overstayed your welcome.

Tip for the outgoing visionary: Consider setting up systems and policies that will create lasting change. Celebrate what you and your team have accomplished – share your stories of transformation and set up the team to embrace what’s next. End your tenure on a high note and set a strong foundation for the new leader.

I’m bored.

You came into the job with a lot of fanfare; accomplishing big things. Now things are set and you’re finding the job less interesting. You’re no longer challenged, but do you dare to admit you’re coasting? In today’s world, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. An organization without momentum will get lost. Staff will stray, boards will disengage, funders will lose interest. Find your fire again or get out.

Tip for the coasting leader: Take some time to really think about what motivates you. What kind of work, cause, or life goals do you have? Working at a place where you’re motivated again will not only make you happier, but will also make you a better, happier leader.

I’m struggling.

You’re friendly, nice, easy going, yet it seems more and more people just don’t get you or your ideas. Every day seems to drag on with hurdle after hurdle. True, we can’t please everyone in life, but is the writing on the wall that you’re just no longer the leader they need? Take a moment to think about what the organization really needs at this point. Is it a new vision? Is it a change in the business model? Is it rebuilding staff trust and culture? Take an honest assessment and ask yourself, “Am I the best person to move this forward?”

Tips for the misunderstood leader: Stepping aside can feel like failure, but take solace that you’re doing what’s best for the organization in the long run. Take this as an opportunity for you to reset and find a job where you are truly appreciated and can thrive.

I’m the square peg.

Have you lost your sway? Things just don’t seem to sail through staff and board meetings as they used to. Each endeavor just seems to hit snag after snag. Does everyone but you seem to be on the same page? Maybe the organization that told you they were ready for change, just wasn’t. Maybe it’s time to stop hitting your head against a brick wall and find a new place that will embrace your big ideas.

Tips for the disconnected leader: Have an honest dialogue with the executive committee of your board that focuses on mission, not performance. Try to find common ground and see how you can bridge the expectations and communications gap.

The issues facing our communities today are bigger than ever. Don’t be that leader who is holding your organization back or worse, pulling it down. Don’t let your fear of failure or fear of moving on prevent your organization from greatness. It’s our duty as nonprofit leaders to do what’s best for the cause. Ask yourself, am I what this organization needs right now? We’re not saying the job shouldn’t have its ups and downs, but you should know when you’ve lost steam or direction. Be willing to face reality: Are key people no longer on board? Have funders turned a cold shoulder? Are your ideas no longer gaining traction? Do what it takes to turn it around or be a bigger person and admit: “IT'S TIME TO GO.”

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