Heading for The Door: How To Know As Women Leaders When It’s Time To Go?

Everyone remembers your parting words.Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo, resigned from the company she led for five years “given the inherent changes to my role,” she said, accompanied by a $23 million severance package.According to Lucinda Shen of Fortune, Mayer posted this gracious email: “While reaching this moment has certainly been a long road traveled, it marks the end of an era for Yahoo, as well as the beginning of a new chapter —it’s an emotional time for all of us.” The email was titled “Nostalgia, Gratitude, and Optimism.”[bctt tweet=“Knowing when it’s time to leave your current job and start anew requires strategies #WomenLeaders” username=“takeleadwomen”]One of the most powerful women leaders in tech in the last decade, Mayer is a role model for gracious departures.Across the country on the East Coast, Harvard University’s first female president, Drew Faust, also resigned, amid controversy over her ban on traditional single-gender clubs and a dip in endowments, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.  “In a letter on Wednesday announcing her intention to step down, Faust quoted lyrics from ‘Fair Harvard,’ the university’s alma mater, acknowledging that she had led the university ‘through change and through storm,’” the Chronicle reported.So even the top tier have to go sometimes. For them and for anyone, it is better to leave with grace.Regardless of what level you are in your career, how do you know when it is time to go? Certainly, a buy-out or reorganization — or a firing—may make the decision for you. But how can you make the decision that you have outgrown a company or role and that you need to make a change?[bctt tweet=“Regardless of what level you are in your career, how do you know when it’s time to go? #BusinessWomen” username=“takeleadwomen”]As savvy women leaders, you may not want to just make a lateral move to another company, but you may want to start a business of your own. The number of women at all ages starting their own businesses is growing.“Importantly, younger women are becoming even more empowered and ambitious. According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, the number of successful women entrepreneurs who were millennials or baby boomers increased significantly over prior generations,” writes Arielle Kimbarovsky in Crowdspring.Other research comes to similar conclusions.“A survey of 400 young women by career advice company Create & Cultivate and market research firm Buzz MG shows millennial women’s entrepreneurial streak, according to Good Money. “They found that 83 percent of women want to own their own businesses and that 55 percent are already working a side hustle outside of their full-time job. Luckily for these young entrepreneurs, business accelerators are on the rise across the country, meaning there’s more organizations looking to help people get their start-up off the ground,” Good Money reports.Whether you are looking to quit your day gig and put your full-time efforts into what has so far been your side hustle, you will want to consider some signs pointing you to the exit. To that end, Mark Achler, lecturer at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and managing director of MATH Venture Partners, writes in Fortune about the tough questions you need to ask yourself.Contemplating the big move to another company or even to a new field requires some soul-searching and pragmatic questioning.“Are you moving up the career ladder, learning new skills, taking on additional responsibilities, and becoming a manager? Or is this a dead-end job with little room for advancement and growth? How important is it to you that you grow professionally and personally? What are your personal goals? And can you achieve them in your current position?” Achler writes.“Know the signs of stagnation, and be honest with yourself as you answer these questions. Jotting your thoughts down on paper can help you think more clearly. Try making a T chart of pros and cons,” Achler writes.Meghan Biro, founder and CEO of TalentCulture and host of the #WorkTrends live podcast and Twitter Chat, writes in Forbes, that sometimes you don’t need to do all that inquiry. Because the writing is on the wall for when you need to leave a company or organization. It is plain to see.“If you find yourself having the same problem over and over — a toxic boss, or an overwhelming sense you’re being exploited, pursue what channels you can, but realize it probably won’t change. Too many workplace cultures tolerate this kind of friction, and radical change won’t happen without tremendous pressure from outside or above,” Biro writes.“Then, consider this: Employees earn a 5.2 percent pay increase on average when changing jobs, according to Glassdoor. What do you have to lose?”The upside is, you leave and you are better off. Hopefully you are not making a poor choice and not just moving sideways but down.Whatever your decision, know that in your feeling of stasis at work or in your career you are not alone.“A Society for Human Resource Management survey found that a mere 7 percent of employees polled were ‘very satisfied’ with their jobs. But there’s the normal hum of dissatisfaction and then there’s something else: the undeniable gut feeling that you should jump ship ASAP,” Biro writes.“Most of us, most of the time, will second-guess ourselves back to our desk. But if you’re serious about your career, then staying in a toxic, draining job may not be your best option. Since I’m in the business of hiring, firing, retention and work, I get to see this play out from both sides,” she writes.Of course there are times as women leaders when quitting your job or ending the contractual relationship is urgent and not just about a feeling or gut reaction.This is when you can put into practice the 9 Leadership Power Tools as created by Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead. At the foundation of the toolkit is the shift in understanding that you move from the idea of “power over” something to a “power to” create change in your life and career. Now is the time to employ your power to affect your own professional growth.Priscilla Claman, president of Career Strategies, Inc., and contributor to the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job, writes in Harvard Business Review, that if you are contemplating a change, you must leave if you know something illegal or unethical is happening or if your job is negatively affecting your health and well-being.[bctt tweet=“If your job is negatively affecting your health and well-being, it’s time to go #CareerChoices” username=“takeleadwomen”]“Before you quit, however, you need to put together a plan that includes when and how you are going to resign, whom you are going to use as references, and, most importantly, what you are going to say about why you are resigning,” Claman writes.Just as in ending a personal relationship or in the aftermath of a bad breakup, you absolutely cannot bad mouth your former employer. That will haunt you. Think about it, haven’t you sat through a tirade about someone’s ex and thought to yourself, “I wonder what she will say about me?”Your new employer will think the same and will not want to be associated with someone with negative things to say about a former colleague or company.“Loose lips sink ships — and careers,” writes Christy Rakoczy in Mic.“Even if you’re confident that you are never ever going back to the job you’re leaving, even if you hate that office with enough passion to make you pack up and move across the country, even if you are sure the boss will give you a horrible reference no matter what you do … try not to really screw the company over,” certified job and career transition coach Rita Friedman told Mic.There is that cliché about one door closing and another opening. But also know that your professional life can last up to five decades. And none of that time should be spent feeling miserable for most of your waking hours. Weigh your options. Now may be the time to leave. Make a plan.So, now, go on, go. Walk out the door.