LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

I am reminded (almost) daily that candidates sometimes just don’t “get it” when it comes to the lack of content in candidate profiles and photos they choose to post on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, after all, is the leading worldwide business tool designed as a networking platform so you can connect with other professionals in your industry niche.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter (both excellent social media platforms), LinkedIn is designed to connect people both known and unknown based on the connections they build in their LI profiles. Last month 141 million people logged on to the LinkedIn site (many looking for top-shelf talent) – and that’s only part of the story. With 225 million users it has become the top digital repository of resumes on the planet. I think about the power of LinkedIn as a networking tool and then run across profiles that baffle me beyond words.

Here are a few tips on getting your LinkedIn photo and profile ready for primetime:

Photos

– I’ve seen photos of candidates taken on the beach in a bathing suit – never good.

– A picture of a photograph screams you don’t know anything about computers. Ouch!

– Photos taken in a bar consuming adult beverages just send the wrong message. Period.

– Colorful Avatars, while cute, have no place in a LinkedIn profile unless you are in the arts.

– Photos of you kissing your significant other are in poor taste as your profile photo. Just bad.

– I love my kids too – but a photo with your children is probably not ideal for a LinkedIn profile.

– Poorly taken photos look bad and demonstrate the wrong message. It’s easy to take a great PIC!

– No photo is actually better than any of the examples above. A photo puts a face with a name.

– Posting a photo of yourself taken 20 years ago is both disingenuous and awkward.

Content

– Join Groups that are relevant to your skills and occupation. You can join up to 50 groups on LI.

– Always join your ALUM as it’s a great way to network.

– Get recommendations from people you’ve worked with. No recommendations send the wrong message.

– Having a solid number of contacts you are connected to matters. It’s great for networking and shows you are well connected in your space.
– Having contact information visible is important if you want people to know how to reach you directly.

– Endorsements are also a great way to showcase your skills – make sure you have endorsements in multiple categories. It helps to tell your story.

– List any publications that have been published by you or articles where you were quoted.

– Understand the power of the advanced search tool to find people and companies to connect with. It’s a very powerful feature.

– If you write a BLOG make sure it’s posted on LI as it increases your brand to everyone in your network.

LinkedIn can be a wonderful way to make sure you are truly connected in your niche. On the other hand if you have little to no content, don’t use its vast array of features and elect to remove that photo taken on the beach at the beer bash – maybe not so much.

The Perfect Candidate

Behavioral interviewing tells us a lot about a person – especially their perceptions of themselves, their actions and experiences. In a behavioral interview, the interviewer asks probing questions and the way they are answered can often be the best way to predict a candidate’s future job performance. In other words, what you see and hear is a sort of preview of upcoming attractions.

Questions are framed to uncover and understand the candidate’s past job behavior, work experience, intellectual capacity, interpersonal skills and what motivates them. It’s difficult for a candidate to avoid answering as each question is designed to be open-ended, and a simple “yes” or “no” just won’t do.

Believe it or not, there are self-perceived ‘perfect candidates’ lurking amongst us. These are the candidates that can’t seem to recall anything that would portray them as less than perfect. Really? That would be correct. These candidates attempt to strategically dodge each and every question, often never admitting to any mistakes they have made or incorrect actions they took. It’s not realistic nor believable for anyone to not have the self awareness to admit that they have made mistakes during their career. Let’s face it – that’s how many of us learn. Stepping up to the plate and admitting a shortcoming or bad decision shows that yes, you are human, you made a mistake and grew from that experience. It’s ok.

In behavioral-based interviewing the candidate is often asked how to describe an activity that centers around their experience, technical capability, leadership/management skills, analytical skills, interpersonal/writing skills and other critical areas important to the role they are seeking.

I challenge you to prepare and practice examples of moments during your career where you know you made mistakes. Don’t try to “reach for an answer” during an interview. It comes across disingenuous and downright phony, and can also disqualify your candidacy.

Develop the answers now so you will be prepared for questions like the ones noted below:
Tell me about a time when you had to take the initiative and drive a project for your team that was not going well. How did you use that experience to coach and mentor?
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult provider during an implementation. How did you handle the situation and what was the result?
Give me an example of a challenge you faced in your current role and elaborate on how you solved it.
Tell me about a time when you had to handle a very difficult leadership situation. What did you do?
Give me an example regarding a conflict with a coworker and how you resolved it.

While these are not rocket-science questions, they deserve genuine and honest answers to help demonstrate your value to an organization that may be placing high bets on you and the future of the establishment.

Listen to the question, pause and think about the answer for a few seconds. Be yourself – be honest and above all – don’t candy coat the answer. We are all human.

Knowing When to Discuss Compensation

I get a kick out of candidates that (from day one) start off each conversation about what to expect regarding the compensation once they’ve interviewed with one of my clients. Forget discussing the Where, What and the Why of a potential new role – let’s skip all of that and move to the meat of the matter and discuss what’s really important: the amount they’ll be receiving and how often they’ll get paid! It sends a hiring manager a very clear message when the candidate brings up compensation too early in the interview process, especially when the candidate has not even made it to first base (yet). But wait, there’s even worse: asking the hiring manager for a copy of the benefits package in the same breath. I’ve seen it done (over and over), and yet I’ve never seen it play out quite the way the candidate would hope. You need to understand the range for a new role. I get that. But once you know you are in the right comp range – park the money conversation until a later date.

C’mon people – we are smarter than that! Is compensation important in considering a new role? Absolutely! It’s just not what needs to roll off your tongue on the first interview. It should be a natural process that ultimately leads to discussion, but should never be the focal point for why a candidate’s interested in changing jobs. If it is , then we’ve got a problem! It’s also very bad for the hiring manager to ask about compensation too early. I always tell my candidates to try to avoid answering the question. Instead, I advise them to focus on learning more about the organization, culture and the role before discussing compensation. And talking about compensation could wind up becoming a moot point anyway – if the fit is not there, then it’s just not going to happen. There is so much more to consider and compensation is only one of the four C’s to consider when making a career move.

In the end, making a change is stressful enough. Being eliminated early in the process because you’ve placed too much focus on how you’ll get paid just adds to the stress. Let things play out naturally. A close friend of mine used to tell me “You either create your value internally or externally”.

If you are the right person for the role then money will take care of itself.

It always does.

Top 6 LinkedIn Candidate Debacles

Social media has certainly been a game-changer in today’s competitive job market, and LinkedIn is a very important part of a candidate’s virtual representation of their career accomplishments. With over 135 million members and two new accounts signing up per second, LinkedIn is becoming an ever more important professional networking and job search tool. If you think having a stellar resume is the way recruiters or future employers will evaluate and vet you as a candidate, think again. Your resume, while still a key requirement when seeking a new employer, is only part of the hiring equation. I’m baffled when I talk to an outstanding candidate who has an incomplete LinkedIn profile or a profile that’s… let’s just say is less than flattering.

Try to avoid (at all cost) falling into the “disqualified” category and make sure your Linkedin profile does not negatively impact your ability to land a new gig. Here are some tips from someone (that’d be me) who looks at hundreds of profiles every week:

Profile Photo– Stay away from unflattering photos of you having a beer with friends. It’s just not smart. Also, lose the outdated (by 20+ years) photo of yourself in your attempt to convince the world that you’ve found the Fountain of Youth. Most importantly, use a photo of yourself – not some silly cartoon avatar. We live and work in a professional world so make sure your photo is current and represents your professional self! It’s fine to have a casual photo of yourself as long as it is in good taste.

Work History– Make sure your work history is an accurate mirror image of your resume, especially in terms of its chronology of the Who, What and Where you’ve been during your career. Make sure any between-careers gaps are reflected with a consulting role (if you’ve had one). If you took a sabbatical, it’s ok to list that both on your resume and LI profile. Be accurate and disclose, disclose, disclose…

Contact Info– There is a section in your profile that gives the reader Advice for Contacting you. Make sure you use that field to input your e-mail address. The actual place to input your e-mail on your profile may vary depending on your LI subscription – but find a way to make your e-mail visible.

Interested In- If you want to be contacted about new job opportunities, LI has a specific place for you to “Opt In”. This section gives those sending an InMail way to contact you that matches the things you are most interested in. For example: Tim is interested in: Career Opportunities, Consulting Offers, New Ventures, Job Inquiries, Expertise Requests, Business Deals, Reference Requests, and Getting Back in Touch. If you turn this feature OFF, you are also limiting people from contacting you. Make sure you understand the importance of this feature.

Stay Current- Make sure your latest role and title are current with where you are today. So many candidates start a new job with a new organization, new title, new geography and perhaps more responsibility and forget to update their LI profile to reflect the changes. Make sure you check your profile for accuracy, and add any new content including educational courses or certificates you’ve earned.

Recommendations/Endorsements– This becomes important when a recruiter or hiring manager has a relationship or knows the person who wrote your recommendation, whether it’s personal or through the HCIT industry. Make sure people who write a recommendation for you have actually been an eyewitness to your work! Having no recommendations… it’s not recommended!

Hope this helps.

Organizational Excellence at the Masters

Spring began at 7:02am (EDT) on March 20, 2013 in the Northern Hemisphere. It was welcomed especially by many Americans bidding farewell to some very cold weather. Spring has always been my favorite season… bar none. It’s a time of renewal, longer periods of daylight, warm sunny temperatures, and a sense of rebirth. It’s also a reminder to golf fans that the Masters is just around the corner, and soon one of the greatest sporting events in the world will tee off.

Each year the Masters is held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Golfing legend Bobby Jones teamed with Alister MacKenzie to design this masterpiece in the early 1930s. The end result is one of the finest golf courses anywhere, and in my opinion, the best run sporting event in the world. Little did they know back in the day that this tournament would become one of the supreme and best organized sporting institutions ever! Organizational excellence by the leadership and within its traditions are foremost at the Masters.

I’ve been fortunate to attend the Masters on several occasions, and each time I’ve visited Augusta National, I’m reminded of its beauty and opulence. Watching this event on television, while capturing much of the splendor of Augusta National, can never replace that feeling of excitement once you cross the turnstiles and enter these hallowed grounds. The azaleas and magnolias are breathtaking, and the manicured lawn and golf course are simply spectacular. The main – possibly undetected by the television audience – ingredient is the organizational excellence that defines this great sports institution.

A few traditions that make the Masters a great event:

· The Masters is held on the same course every year – Augusta National. The club opened in 1933. One year later, the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament was held and since then, the top-ranking golfers are either invited or have to meet certain qualifications to play. Previous Masters winners enjoy a life-time exemption. While other major tournaments rotate location/course venues, the Masters is always held at Augusta National.

· Each year, the winner of the Masters Tournament is awarded a Green Jacket to commemorate his victory. Winners must return the jacket to Augusta the following year, where they are stored and made available to the players when they visit.

· The Champions Dinner was started in 1952 by Ben Hogan. Each year since then, the previous Masters tournament winner hosts a dinner for the past champions. The winner chooses the menu and pays for the meal.

· Pimento Cheese sandwiches are a staple at the Masters. There are eight types of sandwiches sold at the Masters but the Pimento Cheese is my favorite. Although the exact recipe is a secret, it’s basically pimento cheese on super-fresh white bread. I first attended the Masters in 1995, and my last visit to Augusta National was in 2008 – the sandwich still sold for the exact amount – $1.50. Some items at the concessions have gone up slightly in price, but not the Pimento Cheese! No inflation here.

· Azaleas and Magnolia Lane – The land that is now known as Augusta National was formerly a tree nursery, and is heavily populated with the natural beauty of azaleas, magnolias, and other shrubs and trees. The azaleas just happen to be in full bloom during the same time the tournament begins each year (what a coincidence)! Magnolia Lane is the 330 yard road that leads to the clubhouse which is lined by 61 glorious Magnolia trees.

· Augusta National Golf Club has consistently chosen CBS as its U.S. broadcast partner but does so in successive one-year contracts. Due to the lack of long-term contractual security, as well as the club’s limited dependence on broadcast rights fees, it is widely held that CBS allows Augusta National greater control over the content of the broadcast, or at least perform some form of self-censorship, in order to maintain future rights.

· The Masters tournament does not have fans in attendance – at least, they’re not called fans. They are known as patrons. You’ll hear it often during the television broadcast. Also, while on the grounds, patrons are told not to run. Walking only, please…

A few other noteworthy items that make this event so superb:

The food and beverage vendors stop selling beer at 4 p.m. – no exceptions. If you feel the need to overindulge in alcohol and become a nuisance, you will be removed from the grounds and your badge will be confiscated – forever. This rule, I’m sure, ensures that the patrons who enjoy the event are not disturbed by someone who can’t control their consumption.

Also, there are no cell phones, beepers and other electronics allowed on the grounds as you are there to enjoy golf and not partake in a conference call. Also, visiting the Masters store to buy all the Masters souvenirs your heart desires is a must-do. The stores are open (exactly) 7 days per year!

There are all sorts of ways to define organizational excellence. I just happen to believe that the leaders who deigned and run this annual event that convenes every April in Augusta near I-20 and Washington Road can teach us all a few lessons. It’s tee time!

You Really Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover

I crossed the Arthur Ravenel Bridge last week on my way to Mt Pleasant to meet a friend for lunch. As I approached the red-light at Houston Northcutt I spotted Hassie Holmes – the newspaper guy. At first glance you might be a little intimidated in buying a newspaper from Hassie. He sends a vibe that he’s on his last nickel and even makes you wonder if he’s homeless. He is always moving around on the same corner of a busy intersection at U.S. Highway 17 and Houston Northcutt Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. He does not change spots. Always works in the exact same spot – 7 days a week. He’s been a fixture there for 20 years selling newspapers. In an article the local newspaper did on Hassie he explained to the reporter, “You can’t judge the book by its cover”. “The strangest thing is misreading somebody. If you just misread this cat, who else have you misread?” He traverses the same busy stretch of highway on a 3-wheeler bicycle to and from his home in nearby Greenhill, and most locals know that Hassie arrives in the morning and works well into the late afternoon – always. He has a basket on his bike but also pulls a small wagon to carry his large inventory of newspapers and magazines.

Holmes grew up in Charleston, but left the area in 1969 and moved to Connecticut, and remained there for nearly 25 years. Hassie earned an associate degree in electronic engineering technology at the University of Hartford’s Ward College of Technology, and later taught physics at public and private schools in Connecticut. He returned to Charleston in 1993, where he spent one semester as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston and another semester at Trident Technical College, also as an adjunct professor. This story about the same guy in dreadlocks who resembles an old Bob Marley throwback look – just having fun selling newspapers on the side of the road. I guess it’s true that everybody has a story.

I enjoyed my lunch and started back towards the bridge waving at Hassie and thinking how many people pass by who would never dream of buying a newspaper from him, let-alone talk to him. The sad part of the story is that they’ve made up their mind about him and stereo-typed Hassie into being someone he is NOT. It made me think about the old adage that people sometimes say when they are ready to meet a candidate, “I can sum someone up in less than a minute.” Really? Can you?

I’ll share one more story on this topic with you. Nearly three years ago, I ran an ad for a Director of Administration for our firm. I had several highly qualified candidates that applied. On the day of the face to face interviews most were decked out to the nines in an effort to impress me and land a new job. I interviewed them all and had one last candidate to meet. Then, without fanfare, Elise walked in. She was not dressed to the nines but instead dressed comfortably in nice casual clothes. I noticed immediately that she sat on the edge of the chair as if she would be leaving soon and wanted to get a head start out the door.

I wrapped up the initial interviews and asked two candidates to return for a final interview. Elise was on the short list. Again, one candidate was decked out in a dress, high heels shoes and complete with fresh makeup. Elise, on the other hand, came back to the second interview once again dressed casually wearing flat comfortable Birkenstock style shoes. Like before, she sat on the edge of the chair ready to bolt out the door as soon as she heard the anticipated bad news. To add fuel to the fire she made eye contact with me as we were wrapping up the interview and said “It’s been nice meeting you and while I probably won’t get the job – I want to thank you for your time”.

I simply said “When can you start?” She has been the best administrative person I have ever hired in 30+ years in business. Bar none. It really goes to say that all of us should look a bit closer before we pass judgment when sizing up a candidate. You really can’t judge a book by its cover. You just can’t.

Just Show Up!

I’ve written about bad candidate behavior for years and have a very long list of things candidates should avoid when seeking higher ground/greener pastures or as they’re interviewing for a new role, but the most basic rule is to practice good interview etiquette. It’s not rocket science to most, but I understand that some may find it fairly challenging.

Bad ‘interview manners’, however, can also apply to the person on the other side of the table. In this lingering (and I do emphasize lingering, and also weak, and sputtering, and challenging) current economic climate, many employers have taken a different approach when it comes to interview etiquette. Somehow, good manners get left behind. Not good – especially when interviewing a passive candidate, who – until we called – wasn’t even looking for another job. That’s right. It’s the passive candidates who most companies fight (really) hard to get. The other option is simply to post a job on a job-board and wait for the non-passives (or unemployed) to apply. Don’t worry they will – and in droves!

As a hiring manager, missing or arriving late for a phone screen or interview with a prospective candidate is downright rude. There’s no glamorous way to put it. Unless there was an Act of God that kept you from showing up, it’s either wrong, forgetful, rude, arrogant, narcissistic dumb or in other words: inextricably inexcusable. And it is really hard to overcome. Don’t worry if that potentially talented, passive, needle-moving star never re-engages or wants to talk with you again. It’s natural for a candidate to be turned off when the hiring manager chooses to display so much disrespect and sends a message loud and clear across the bow. Message heard. Got it.

Just because there is a sea of available candidates in this weak employment market we are still experiencing does not give anyone the right to behave unprofessionally. Nope. It should also be noted that in that while you’re searching through the multitudes of talent out there, you should be striving to attract the ones who stand out as being able to really make a difference in your organization. Finding that gold-star future employee is always the goal when we conduct a search, but it won’t matter if you find them, but elect to be rude by taking a pass on a previously scheduled interview.

Before I finish, let me leave you with this: it’s a small HCIT world we live in, and once the word gets out (and it will) about you (and your organization), the previously unblemished brand equity you once had will quickly take a hit that you may find is very hard to overcome.

To quote Woody Allen, “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

Travel Perks are Overrated

Last week, after months of minimal to no travel, I booked a business trip to NYC. I adore NYC and love to spend time there any time I get the chance. It’s such an electric city, and I feel its energy every time I step out of a taxi – like clockwork. I’ve had that same charged feeling since I first visited as a teenager. But I digress…

Last week’s trip would be no ordinary trip in some ways, yet it would be so ordinarily plain in others. Elise booked my trip with great detail (as always), including the 4am car service which required the inescapable chore of rising at the wee hour of 3:15am.

What?

Yep – 3:15am. I rode to the airport (in the pouring rain), exchanging pleasantries with the driver who was barely awake and wanted to converse just to stay alert. I, with a strong vested interest, obliged his request. We incoherently chatted most of the way as we traversed our way in pitch dark up East Bay St, and finally onto 1-26 West to the Charleston International Airport. Once arriving at the airport, my first observation was that at 4am the TSA is not at work. In fact, they are nowhere to be found. Even so, a line had already formed in the hallway in front of security hoping the TSA would be there soon to begin screening travelers, (which would take at least another 30 minutes) and I soon found comfort on the plastic couch near the gift shop – also closed – as I waited for our nation’s first line of air safety to arrive for work.

Now time for an early morning scan. Another perk – NOT!

And I waited and waited…

Once at the gate we had time before boarding, but just before 5am the 1st Class passengers started to jockey for position in the line near the ticket counter in anticipation of the agent’s first call to board. My heavy travel memories were starting to come back to me, and without much enthusiasm. During the peak of my HCIT vendor career, I consistently logged over 100,000 miles a year. Out Sunday night or early Monday and back home for a mere 48 hours with my family only to repeat the same ritual each week. I’ve visited 49 states (the exception is Idaho) during my career. I knew all of the great parking spots and rode the trains at Hartsfield International Airport – never holding on to the handrail as the trains roared from the T-Concourse to Concourses A-B-C-D and occasionally E. It was a weekly ritual, and so were the once coveted perks of being a frequent traveler.

1st Class always boards first – a real perk to some – not to me anymore. They (the lucky ones) typically look around to make sure they have the best possible position in order to quickly bolt for the poll-position and be first in line to board (probably hoping to see who would be looking as they are the chosen ones, those lucky 1st Class passengers). Once boarded, 1st Class were comfortably ensconced in their wide-body leather seats with a wandering eye to see which coach passengers were looking at them sipping on their coffee or, God forbid, an early morning Bloody Mary to let others know how important they really are – as we in cattle-class strolled past their ample leg room to cross the 1st Class curtains that separate the elite from the coach passengers (AKA the commoners). The coach passengers cram their jackets between American Tourister roller boards while the 1st Class passengers’ recently pressed jackets are handled with care and hung by wooden hanger in the 1st Class cabin. Another perk…

Then there is the announcement to remind all passengers that lavatories are available in the forward and the aft section of the plane, but the forward lavatory is reserved for the few 1st Class passengers while the other 100+ passengers share the remaining 2 facilities. Another perk….

Really?

Once we landed, the 1st Class passengers (of course) deplane first while the cattle-herd coach passengers either wait for their fellow coach passengers to retrieve their luggage from the overhead bin while waiting for the line to clear, or straddle the aisle to claim their deplaning position with one foot in the aisle and the other on the floor in front of their seat as they wait. All the while, the long rows of bodies behind us were pushing to get the hell of the plane and into the terminal where finally all of the passengers would have an equal playing field. Once inside the terminal everyone has the same status, an arriving passenger. That’s it.

I finished my day in NYC and took a cab back to LaGuardia only to repeat the same flying gig all over again – this time without the rain. I thought for a moment about the perceived travel perks I used to have yesteryear, and just smiled and thought how overrated they really were.

And I do mean overrated.

Top 5 Bad Strategies for Starting a Job Search

I have seen lots of really bad outreach messages over the years, but the ones that really stick with me are when a candidates are attempting to build a relationship with our firm and decide to take, well… let’s just say ‘a different approach’. Using any of the following strategies will guarantee your chance of making that all-so-important good first impression is usually dead on arrival. In no particular order, these are some of my favorites:

Dear ‘Undisclosed Recipients’- A huge shout-out to those job-seekers who think they will get anyone’s attention with this (very) bad tactic. It actually takes the least amount of effort to accomplish and just screams that your efforts were “quick and dirty” . Clearly you prefer to use a shotgun approach instead of one more precision-focused to help you find your next gig. DELETE button, please…

iPhone Teaser Message– A tactic truly blows me away, this (really) bad plan does not include much thought at all. It’s a simple message that goes something like this – “I am a very knowledgeable healthcare CIO with multiple advanced degrees who may be interested in a new opportunity. I prefer the eastern shore but would consider the SE.” Really?! This took no effort, had no resume attached and was probably sent while this future candidate was killing time at a red light. The best part is usually the arrogant signature:

Sam Smart, PhD, MBA, MHA
Sent from my iPhone
Excuse all typos
(C’mon… Do you really think I am going to call you?)

Spelling and Grammar– Basic, right? Some really smart people elect not to press the little Spelling and Grammar icon (you know the one I’m talking about), which I just can’t understand. They say first impressions are everything – maybe for some but not for all. Of course, when I read an e-mail or a letter riddled with spelling errors I immediately disengage. I will click the delete button in a nanosecond! Every time!

No Industry Expertise– And I mean NONE. Dear Sir: (ok, it even starts out bad) I have extensive expertise in the automotive retail marketplace…. OK -Why, may I ask, are you sending me this note? No planning went into this strategy. Candidates should create a list of people who specialize in their market niche, and not waste their time or the time of the recipient of their poorly thought-out plan to just arbitrarily send correspondence to a search consultant with no knowledge of the industry they specialize in. Just bad. Really bad.

No Resume – It is embarrassing to read (usually poorly written) e-mails from candidates who attempt to convey their career success in a one or two paragraph e-mail. If you want to get someone’s attention this is (again) a very bad plan. Not sending a resume (generally speaking) will not even count as a base hit. And forget about rounding 2nd. Unless you are really famous this one never works.

First impressions really do matter and in any initial outreach to engage in finding a new home you must put forth a little more effort. Just a little.

The Show Must Go On

“I guess I’m learning
I must be warmer now
I’ll soon be turning
Round the corner now
outside the dawn is breaking
but inside in the dark I’m aching to be free”

It strikes a nerve with me when I hear this now famous song by Queen (also performed by Queen + Paul Rodgers – which I like as well!), and I begin to think about the times during my career when I decided to call it quits and move on to greener pastures. You know the feeling, right? The mind begins to wander, and you begin to question your decisions – how will this organization function without my leadership, and what about the major projects underway? Surely they will fall apart if I leave now? And what about the great team I have in place, including those who joined the organization because of me? What will happen to them and their careers after I’m long gone?

Oh, the guilt…

OK – stop right there! Here’s the deal: while the organization is hopefully much better off having had you steer the ship and lead – trust me when I tell you – the show will go on after you are gone. It just will. I talk with candidates all of the time who have a complete guilt trip and are disillusioned over the pending organizational failure in their absence. They labor over leaving; many actually feel physically sick! OUCH! Just that thought alone is (very) scary! Teams that are deep and wide are built with great people deliver value every day. If the organization does fall apart if you leave, it was likely not built with a solid foundation to begin with. I highly doubt it will fail just because you have decided to move on.

I never recommend that you “time a departure”, as in most cases you will always find a good reason to believe that now or any time in the future is never the right time to leave. It’s just not true. Sure, if you have a “go-live” date that’s two weeks out, I could understand why a few more weeks makes better sense for you to give you time to protect your brand equity and see a major project materialize – I get that. That same argument several months out, however, probably doesn’t hold water. When you grow tired of what you are doing, or find yourself working for a toxic or a terrible leader, you have to make a decision for you, your family and your career. It’s really that simple.

“My soul is painted
like the wings of butterflies
fairytales of yesterday
will grow but never die
I can fly my friends”

As much as we all think about our real organizational value – deep organizations are not predicated by the tenure of any single individual. And, yes, the show will go on with or without you!