People Don’t Leave Companies, They Leave Leaders!

Posted April 30, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

I found Greg Savage’s headline, “People don’t leave companies. They leave leaders.” recently and a picture came into my head. For the life of me, I can’t remember which terrible romantic comedy it came from, but I can vividly remember some female character in a romcom saying, “What if it isn’t that everyone leaves? What if it’s that everyone leaves me?” The same notion, as Greg Savage eloquently puts, is often forgotten in business. In fact, when an employee leaves, we’re quick to blame everyone but ourselves. Greg says:

Mostly, my natural reaction has always been a human one I suppose. “What possible reason would they have to do that?” or “What’s wrong with them?” or even, “She must be leaving for money. The fool!”

Instead, Greg points out that most people don’t leave companies for money or for a true “new experience.” Why do they leave?

Mostly, people don’t change jobs solely for money. They almost never resign on a whim, or in a fit of anger. They joined your company because they believed it right for them, and actually they want it to be right. Something, at some point, makes it wrong. And if you really take the time to dig into their real reasons for leaving – and you should – you will find that it’s not ‘the company’ they blame. It’s not the location, or the team, or the database or the air-conditioning.

It’s the leadership!

I’m sure we’ve all had an experience working for a company with flawed or even crazy leadership. I certainly have. So what’s the lesson in Greg’s point? For leaders, it’s to take a look at ourselves and realize why we might be experiencing turnover and what part we play in it. For those interacting with leadership, it’s a call to look for the right kind of leadership when searching for a job and ensuring you’ll be able to effectively work with them in any job you take. Because ultimately, it’s those leaders who will drive you up or out.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."