Time Up or Time Out?

Debra_BuckleyDebra Buckley

CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Management and Leadership.


I have been reflecting upon a comment by John Key, at his departure, that “every good leader knows when their time is up”.

He left on his own terms, was still our most popular PM and his party was polling well, yet he perceived his time was up.

Towards the end of the year, I too, often feel like my time is up. There is very little left in the tank, all the good ideas and strategic decisions feel like they missed a beat in the execution and I’m unsure as to what else I have to offer.

Following a jolly good Christmas holiday and some quiet time, watching the sun rise, I will somehow manage to refill the tank and return replenished and ready for another year.

I wonder how many times a leader does this before they know their time really is up? What are some of the warning signs that tell you your time is near and how can you tell if the lesson is that you’re ‘done’ with corporate life or just the current role?

For me the answer is really simple. Once there is no passion there is no challenge, and if there is no challenge, I am no longer learning or growing. So for me, it’s not a matter of leaving my corporate life all together; it is just a matter of taking time out and seeking a new opportunity.

For others the time-out button may be triggered by significant change, an impossible workload or the mental pressure of being on top of their game 24/7. Alternatively, it can be exciting – an offer of a new role, possibly even accompanied by a feeling of elation that you have been head-hunted for a key role that appears a perfect fit for you.

There are literally thousands of leadership books that tell us how to be a better coach, decision maker and delegator. Very few of us thought that President Donald Trump would take over the USA as president, yet, because of their two-term policy, President Obama’s time is up.

This leads me to wonder if knowing your time is about to be up and having advance warning makes the transition any easier. My guess is, it would depend on how well you feel you have done in the role or how you measure your success.

Sometimes the decisions are made for you and sometimes you need to take the same approach as John Key, and choose for yourself.

‘Time up’ is only a negative if what you really needed was time out.

Before you pen your resignation letter, ask yourself: Is my time up or do I just need a little time out?

Author: magazinestoday

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