Letting A Key Leader Go

Recently I’ve worked in two situations where a good leader has had to be let go as their performance slipped, expectations and demands increased and the CEO felt that a change was needed to rebuild momentum.

We spent a fair bit of time anticipating the likely reactions of the recipient and how to best handle the situation to protect all parties, and of course clients and the business.

No-one likes having a termination conversation with someone they know, has previously valued and has now become surplus to requirements – but it is an integral part of building a Peak Performing sports team, business, start-up, store or organisation.  And it’s best to go about it in the following way:

  1. Follow the 6 P’s (Proper preparation prevents pretty poor performance).
  2. Have a clear plan in mind on how to replace the outgoing individual.
  3. Follow The Four Agreements.
  4. Take action quickly when you’ve made your mind up.  Have a sleepless night and then get on and do it.
  5. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and be respectful, empathetic and engaged with the five step process he/she will inevitably be going through:
  • Denial.  They won’t believe it.  It can’t be happening.  You don’t mean it.
  • Bargaining.  Look, I’ll fix this, sort it out, change, deliver, it’ll all work out – so you can forget it happened and we can go back.
  • Anger.  You’ve got the wrong person.  You don’t understand.  Everyone else is to blame, not me.  This is unfair.
  • Sadness.  Oh no – I’ve liked it here.  I’ll miss it.
  • Acceptance.  OK – I get it.  Now, how do we all get through this, survive and move on.

It’s never pleasant, but it’s a time when the CEO must do the right thing and do it right.  For the good of the recipient, the team and the morale of all who remain.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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