If the best way to make someone else look bad is to make yourself look good, what’s the best way to make yourself look bad? A lot of people would argue that it’s to prove your a phoney somehow, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s not quite the most effective way to self-sabotage.
The worst thing you can possibly do as a leader – in whatever arena you lead – is walk away. Once you’ve taken up the mantle of tribe leader, and all of the privileges and responsibilities that go with that, it doesn’t matter any longer how big or small the tribe itself is. When you’re the leader, the entire breath of the tribe comes from how you interact with it. How you encourage its growth. If you step off – even if you nominate a new leader, or one steps in – the burning of that bridge will invariably spread further than you expect.
Part of this is because any kind of leadership is public. Your tribemates are members of other tribes, and rest assured, they’ll tell these other groups exactly how you behaved as a leader. It also affects those to whom you were spokesperson for your group. As the leader, you’re the face of the group, and when you walk away, these other groups will see that and start asking questions. They’ll never get the real answers – your followers won’t tell your story for you any more accurately for your disappearance, if they tell it at all. And in this case, respectful silence has no benefit. It leads to speculation in the opposition, and speculation is never a good sign.
How you quit does matter. Moving on is not the same as walking away – finding a better purpose, dissolving a group which has accomplished its task, these are all valid reasons, and there are more. What makes the difference between the end of a task and abandonment is timing and disclosure. If it’s well known that you’re finishing your term at a given time, or that the task will take a specified period, that’s cool. In some instances it may even drive people harder and make them happier with you as a leader – assuming you stand up to your promises as laid out.
Quitting is worse. It’s the most absolute self-sabotage. Having a leader quit tends to make people feel as though they’ve been led on, that there was never any end in sight, or that any goals that you introduced meant nothing and all of their work was meaningless as well.
Why, if you’re going to quit, you may as well just