Executive Transitions – Meaningful vs Relevant

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

2019 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 Robert Redford at 82 is still a box office draw.

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 or life left based upon actuarial tables and cultural norms.

Discussion Partner’s launched our Transition 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”.  Our experience over the last five years will be summarized in our next book due out in May tentatively entitled Executive Transitions – Looking Forward In The Rear-view Mirror!

Recently, in our client work DPC Advisors have been struck by the level of satisfaction differentiation between Meaningful endeavors and their contribution to feelings of Relevance.

DPC Advisors have concluded that Meaningful endeavors independent of their seriousness of purpose nor value contributions are in and of themselves insufficient unless they also foster a feeling of Relevance.  The concept of Relevance is when the Executive also feels that their effort is contemporary and appropriate to the times.

This is not a suggestion that one focus is more important than the other; moreover fulfillment via Meaningful work is achievable and embraced by Executives. However DPC’s conclusion is that there also needs to be a focus on contemporary or Relevant work to optimize a feeling of continued sense of self.

There are two areas we suggest be considered as the journey begins!

Securing Relevance During Transition

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 a feeling of connectivity.

We have labeled the “top 3” as Next Generation Engagement Drivers 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. Purpose – the ability to continue to promote personal brand and be recognized as a domain “expert” regardless of future setting via engagement in contemporary activities

Many executives “can’t wait” to get started on the next phase of life while others are somewhat fearful.  Both constituencies need to be mindful that the tenure of one’s life as Dr. Lynda Gratton in her most recent book The 100 Year Life, is elongated requiring us to be sensitive to the nuances associated with how, and where we spend our post-transition time.

The position take by DPC via our research and 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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