Thursday, September 14, 2006

Outgoing Leaders: Leave No Strings Attached

A colleague currently attending an industrial relations conference in Bangkok wrote, "Japan has a very interesting model to handle Greying Issues and the re-employment of senior workers. The retirement age in Japan is 60. When a manager retires today, he is being re-employed as a consultant and plays an active role in guiding his deputy who is promoted to take his place. This excellent solution provides both good career advancement opportunities to younger colleagues and re-employment opportunities to more senior colleagues, where their much valued experience can be shared and continued."

I prefer another model.

Not too long ago, a senior person stepped down from heading an organisation in Singapore. He continued to come back to the office afterwards. The new man sent him a memo to such effect; requesting him to vacate the office expediently, as his continued presence was not helping the transition to new leadership.

The old man's office was moved out of the premises soon after. And he has gone on to contribute to other organisations in other ways.

When a manager retires, he should let the new man handle his job without his looming presence. This will enable the new man to pursue his ideas freely without any shadow lurking around.

This is especially useful in situations where one's predecessor is what Harvard Business Review describes as a "narcissistic leader".

Separately, it is useful in roles where your position requires absolute independence. For example, as chief justice of a country.

The old man is, of course, free to share his experience with other companies. The world can be the old man's oyster.

After all, a good manager's expertise is transferable skill and can be as valuable elsewhere.

Dharmendra Yadav


Anonymous said...

Dharm, I cannot possibly imagine which old man you are eluding to. Perhaps the old man has been in the job too long and can't take personal criticism? Maybe he should do the decent thing and step aside altogether? Sometimes when you love something you have to set it free!

don said...

are we talking about our MM?