Leaders quit for the same reasons as everyone else: burnout, lack of executive support, and the absence of belonging. It’s for these reasons the Bright Places team supports leaders in one-on-one coaching sessions.
We know they need an ear, a few tips, and a ton of empathy. Forbes recently wrote an article that said, “Upper management, CEOs, and executives are overworked, overwhelmed, and leaving their companies for positions in organizations that recognize the value of a healthy and happy workforce.”
From my own experience working with executives, I can attest to the validity of that finding. Here are just a few of things that leaders are struggling with today:
“I want to lead in a toxic-free environment.”
Ever work in job where toxic behaviors run rampant with no consequences?
Unfortunately, most of us can answer ‘yes’ to this question. Imagine trying to lead a team with no regard for the impact their attitudes and actions have on their workplace.
Even more, leaders in these types of environments carry the burden of trying to overcompensate with positivity in attempts to balance out those negative influences. They want to change the culture, but can’t seem to break through — and it’s exhausting.
“I feel at risk when I witness unethical behaviors.”
Oftentimes, when leaders see overtly unethical behavior, they can have anxiety about potentially suffering the fallout of bringing it to light. Being accountable for a team that isn’t always coloring in the lines can put leaders in a position where they need to second-guess speaking up in order to protect themselves. While the accountability comes with the job, if the environment at the top is also toxic, this anxiety is not unwarranted.
“I feel diminished and bullied.”
Yes, even those who’ve been selected for leadership roles can feel irrelevant. Just like the cool kids in high school, upper management can keep lower-level leaders in the dark about decisions made behind closed doors. This lack of transparency shows leaders that they are either not seen as trustworthy or not valued enough to be looped in. When you begin to feel more like a pawn than an esteemed member of the leadership team, your loyalty to the team will naturally take a serious hit.
“We talk about change, but it never happens.”
Another thing that runs rampant in toxic environments? Talk. Particularly in the last few years, discussion about the need for change has spread like wildfire, but has turned out to mostly be smoke. For leaders trying to propagate that change, it’s like repeatedly running head-first into a brick wall. When executive peers or upper management are resistant to new ideas, it’s challenging (and exhausting!), to continuously beat the drum for an audience of deaf ears.
If you’re a leader that’s considering going out on your own, know that you don’t have to do it alone. Bright Places developed/is developing the Exit “Planned” Program to help you make that shift in your career with guidance from professionals who’ve done it. Our consultants share their experiences and lessons learned through an intensive, three-day program that will help you plan both your exit and your relaunch.
If you’re a leader looking to keep your own executives from leaving, connect with us to find out what you can do to better support (and keep!) your team.
Want to learn more?
Why Some High Performers Are Quitting Big Companies to Work for Themselves, Harvard Business Review
The C-Suite’s Role in Well-Being, Deloitte
While we’re all familiar with the Great Resignation, another equally alarming trend has presented itself in the last few years. Referred to as “the Great Breakup,” women in leadership roles are leaving their jobs in droves — at much higher rates than men — in search of better opportunities, more flexibility, and a greater commitment to equity and inclusion. A recent study conducted by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company concluded that about 10.5% of women in senior management left their company in 2021, compared to 9% of male executives.
The eighth edition of “Women in the Workplace,” the largest annual study of women in corporate America, also found that:
How is this possible? Read the full report here.