From realizing that you have nothing new to offer to prioritizing personal growth over company growth—here are the top signs to help you know if it’s time to call it quits.
On November 29, 2021, Parag Agrawal replaced Jack Dorsey—the man who co-founded Twitter—as the company’s CEO. In a statement, Dorsey said, “I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.”
When to step down as CEO is a question many managers face. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, there are a few key signs that can help you make your decision.
#1 You’ve taken the company as far as you can take it.
Sometimes a CEO might become complacent in their role and stop pushing for advancement. If you feel that you have given the company your all and have no new ideas to take it forward, hand your company over to someone eager to usher in change.
#2 Your company growth is becoming stagnant.
If your company is no longer witnessing significant financial growth under your leadership, it is time to let someone else take the reins. If you have not been able to implement a proper business strategy, now might be a good time to bring someone in who can do it for you.
#3 Your company is going in a different direction than you had originally envisioned.
As a business grows, it needs to change. Part of being CEO is being able to meet those needs and transform the company into something more successful. The Vice-Chair of organizational consultancy firm Korn Ferry, Jane Stevenson, told Forbes, “When you think about where a company is heading, having the right leader to take it there is really critical.” If you have been unable to keep up with the changing trends, it is probably time to step down and let someone else with the right knowledge steer the ship.
#4 You are experiencing high levels of stress.
Is this a job that is beginning to take too much of a toll on you? Do you dread coming to work every day, partaking in meetings, and telling people what to do? It may be time to hand over your hard hat and let someone else take the helm.
#5 You’ve had enough of politics.
If it seems like lately there is more bickering and drama than progress in the company, it may be time to pack it in. Company politics never takes a backseat and can be overwhelming, even if you are the CEO. After a point, they get too much and can be a distraction from the job at hand. If this is the case, it might be time to step down.
#6 You know someone who could be a better leader.
This may be hard to accept at first, but if you have someone in mind who could do a better job than you, it is time to pass the company onto them. Maybe this person is already in the company or is external; either way, you should have an idea of who can take over and lead your company to success.
#7 You are bored.
You have been working at the same company and doing the same tasks year after year. If you feel bored with the routine and want to learn something new or dabble in new ventures, it’s best to step down as CEO. Starling Bank CEO, Anne Boden, noted, “Once you’re in a situation where you’re no longer challenged, you’re too comfortable, and you stop having to struggle to achieve your ambitions, it’s time to strive for something different.” You need to be passionate about what you do; if you’re not, why should your company suffer with you?
#8 Your ways aren’t working anymore.
There may come a time when the blueprint that led you to success will no longer produce desirable results for the company. This could be due to the company maturing and the market changing. If this is the case, it is best to pass the baton onto someone else who can take your company in a new direction.
#9 You don’t have time for the job.
CEOs need to put in a lot of hours to really make a difference. This job is time-consuming and needs a lot of attention. If you don’t think you have the time to do what your company needs, or would rather spend that time building or contributing to other companies, it may be best to hand over control.
In the end, making the decision to step down as CEO is not an easy one. It takes a lot of introspection and contemplation, but if you feel like it is time for you to move on, don’t be afraid to do so. There are plenty of other opportunities out there for you.
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