Transitions – Edgy & Absent!

Posted on February 6, 2018
by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

2018 is a transition year for many Boomer Executives whom will be reaching the milestone age of 65!

Granted the “70’s something” Stones, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney are still touring and Clint Eastwood at 87 has a movie coming out.  Regardless the magical age of 65 remains a threshold, as it was the age when most of our parents left the work force.

At the time however, after they got their gold watch, took a cruise, there was not much meaning nor life left based upon actuarial tables and cultural norms.

Discussion Partner’s launched ourTransition Advisory Service offering in 2013 after the publication of our book Executive Transitions-Plotting The Opportunity!

Since that time we have worked with now over 500 executives in a variety of sectors on creating the “soft landing” for the company derived from and organized Succession Plan and executive via a structured approach for thinking about “what’s next”.

In Discussion Partner’s experience regardless of age and psychographic profile it is prudent to substitute the question of “How will I focus my energies for the next 3 to 5 years” vs. “What will I do with the rest of my life”.  This is the working hypothesis of Inflection Point we utilize in our discussions with clients.

There are two areas we suggest be front of mind as the journey begins!

Pre-Departure Dislocation
DPC has found that many executives feel “awkward”, or “uncomfortable” when visibly continuing with their employer when their Successor has been identified and on-boarded.

This discomfort is exacerbated by the fact that the executive is likely more focused on life’s next chapter.  DPCrefers to this feeling of disequilibrium as “Elvis has left the building” emotion.

In these circumstances we suggest a modality we refer to as the 3 D’s Framework as presented below:

  • Disappearance- significantly reduced visibility on-site unless required (counterintuitive when one is still employed although this approach has merit)
  • Directive- it is hard to abruptly avoid behaving like “the boss”.  DPC strongly suggests that a “have you considered vs. you should” approach as preferable when interacting with Successor or key incumbents
  • Distance- in support of your Succession plan it is preferable to avoid being “the Wizard behind the curtain” and maintaining a respectful distance both logistical and relationship wise during the bridge tenure, with clear boundaries worked out in advance with your Successor

Post Transition Common Denominators
Regardless of age, enterprise tenure, or post departure endeavors, DPC in our client work has found that there are three common denominators that if front of mind, contribute to  success.

We have labeled the “top 3” as Next Generation Engagement  as follows:

  1. Edgy- the ability to engage in activities that challenge intellectual curiosity via continued acquisition of knowledge and adjunct expertise
  2. Control- the ability to have as much as possible total control over calendar and focus of activities
  3. Relevance- the ability to continue to promote personal brand and be recognized as a domain “expert” regardless of future setting

Many executives “can’t wait” to get started on the next phase of life while others are somewhat fearful.

The position taken in our client work is that the more organized the pre-departure thinking, and awareness of possible outcomes the more likely the executive will be comfortable with “what’s next”!


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