Thursday, December 6, 2012

Update: How Association Execs Know It is Time to Leave

Back in November, I wrote "How do you know when it is time to leave" and then followed with "13 Associations Executives Respond to When It's Time to Leave."

Over Thanksgiving weekend, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote a piece about Missouri football coach Gary Pinkle headlined Has Pinkle Gone Stale?  

Association executives who have been the chief staff officer for 10 years or more should carefully consider two quotes from the column:

  • Has Pinkel gone stale? Pinkel is a good coach, but he’s 60 years old, and he’s been in this job for 12 years. We’ve seen plenty of good coaches stagnate if they stay in one place for too long. It’s hardly unusual in coaching.
  • Only three of Pinkel’s assistant coaches have left during his 12 seasons at Mizzou. Is it time to freshen the staff by bringing in some fresh blood and new ideas?
Wow!  These quotes are deja vu all over again and remind me of what happened when my CEO and I were fired back in 1992.  My boss had been CEO for 16 years.  I had been with the organization 15 years and its Executive Vice President for 8 years.  The association had grown rapidly in the CEO's 16 years and was considered the model organization within its industry.

But, the CEO had been there 16 years.  I didn't see him as stale ... but, as Charles Rumbarger told me later:  "You're friends come and go but your enemies accumulate."  

In an executive session, some of the association's board members complained that there hadn't been enough turnover in the management staff.  "They must be paying to much!" I was stunned.  Since when is the lack of turnover a bad thing?

Yet, read Miklasz's comment:  shake up the staff to get "fresh blood and new ideas."

That's silly reasoning!

But, if you've been in your CEO position for 7 or more years, pay attention to the signals -- no matter how faint or how silly -- and have an exit strategy.  

Remember, it's their organization not yours but it's your career, not theirs.

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