As soon as you determine your end date for leaving the agency, start passing on your wisdom. Talk to people one-on-one, a few people at a time, or to bigger groups. It’s not about you wanting to be remembered, but about offering guidance to those who take over when you are gone. Your “farewell tour” should not drag on forever—figure out how often your “concert dates” should happen, and the topics you’d like to speak about. Send invitations. Consider having conversations and recording them on video so people who can’t attend can access them later.
What you can leave behind:
- A problem-solving approach – Ask questions, be curious, never stop pushing the boundaries. Think before you design.
- Ethical practices – How to lead in values, not just ideas.
- Interpersonal guidelines – How to work with difficult clients, and co-workers.
- Insights – Pearls of wisdom gleaned from a lifetime in a tricky, challenging but exciting business.
- Career highlights and lowlights - The moments you remember most fondly, and the ones you wish you could forget. Remind everyone you made mistakes as well as enjoyed successes. They will, too. It’s what you learn from both that are important.
- Confidence that everyone will be fine without you – People want reassurance that your departure does not signal an end for them as well. Do all you can to boost morale and self-confidence in your people, and your trust in your chosen successor.
Why wait until you are walking out the door?
Mentoring is a worthwhile and mutually beneficial method for passing along your mastery of the agency leadership role. Like the old model of European Guilds, you have apprentices, journeymen, and the Masters who own businesses and teach their skills to those they employ. The good folks at Gapingvoid.com shared this thought recently:
“Just like the Olympic ceremony suggests, you don’t own the torch, you just get to carry it for a bit before passing it along. It’s the flame that matters, not the carrier.”
Another bit of wisdom from Tucker Max of Scribe Media, via GapingVoid.com:
People seldom want your advice. Lecturing does not work. People want—need—to figure it out for themselves. You can:
- Explain what you did in similar cases.
- Ask a question to open a new thought path.
- Tell a story that resets their approach.
- Maybe suggest what you might do in their place, as a signpost to a direction.
When you share your ideas about the business, values and what matters, remember that you are ceding leadership, not still manning the helm. Mentoring’s role is guidance, not management… motivation, not restraint… inspiration, not deterrence.