Leaving on Top: Graceful Exits for Leaders explores what it means to move on from a career with a class and a view for what's next. While most graceful exiters pursue a variety of interests throughout their professional lifetime, others are content to reach the top and then cling to it. Through this research, David Heenan has found that most leaders can be categorized into four exiting types:
Timeless wonders: With their skills very much intact, these white-haired prodigies have no need to call it quits.
Aging Despots: Reluctant to leave the spotlight, they are past their prime and should turn the reigns over to a new generation.
Comeback Kids: Whether to return their enterprises to their former glory, or simply save themselves from boredom, these once-departed leaders have returned with a vengeance.
Graceful Exiters: Quitting while ahead, they leave a sterling reputation as they move on.
Heenan understands how to exit gracefully from his profession - he's done it several times. In Leaving On Top, he pairs wisdom derived from his experience with dozens of high-profile exits, both graceful and untimely. Heenan's examination includes ten exiting lessons from leaders of industry, such as:
Know Thy Situation: Situations change, and the intuitive know when a great career has fizzled.
Take Risks: Accept change as a natural part of your transition, push your comfort zone to confront new challenges.
Keep Good Company: Build alliances to help plan your exit strategy, then stay connected.
Keep Learning: Graceful exiters remain curious. They are intellectually interested, alert, and adaptable.
Know When to Walk Away: Blind determination often backfires. Don't let professional success cloud your personal life.
David Heenan is a visiting professor of global strategy at Georgetown University and oversees the strategic direction of a multi-billion-dollar trust. He has served on the faculties of Stanford, Dartmouth, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he won the esteemed Anvil Award for teaching excellence. A former consulting editor to the Journal of Business Strategy, Heenan s consulting clients have included Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citigroup, and McKinsey & Co. He has written two other books for Davies-Black (a Nicholas Brealey imprint), Double Lives and Flight Capital.