The ROI of Maintaining Professional Ties When You Leave Your Position


Sally Grisedale

When your time in a leadership role comes to an end, it can be devastating to leave behind the teams you developed and who supported you.

You miss the close relationships you developed, the rapport you built, and the joy of watching people you hired advance their own careers under your guidance. After you have turned in your badge, it’s tempting to put them and the old position in the past, but that is where you are wrong.

Extraordinary leaders constantly nurture talented people and maintain connections with other skilled professionals in their network. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch with your old teams. It’s not hard to do. You can ask how they are, let them know you are thinking of them, and offer your support.

Your continued leadership and encouragement will be appreciated, and it works to your advantage when you need to find roles for great people at your next venture to invite trusted allies to join you.

In her book “Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections That Count” Karen Wickre notes “At some point, every one of us is going to need help from someone we don’t currently know. Maybe it’s for a job, or family help; it might be about a necessary career pivot, or relocation; it could be for medical or retirement guidance.

You – and virtually everyone else – are going to want to reach out to a number of people for contacts, information or insights, or support.”

From 2001 to 2005, I worked at Yahoo! as a Product Design leader with influence over the careers of many young designers, developers, and researchers. Nineteen years later, I’m still in touch with many of my former Y! colleagues. The young designers I hired are now heads of product design at major corporations. They are in the prime of their career, doing powerful work, and I discovered that talent.

People have careers that go on 5, 10, 15, 20 years, and the people you hired fifteen years ago may be in a position to help you today, so please make time to reach out to the teams you’ve worked with. As Karen Wickre put it, “Nurture it before you need it.”

I have a keen eye for talent; it’s one of my superpowers, and some of those design leaders are my clients today. It’s one of the many reasons I love to work as a coach.

Are you in a career transition and want to be fully confident and impactful about making your next move? Set up a call below and we’ll see if coaching is a fit for you.

Photo by Nadine Johnson

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What Is the Leading by Design Newsletter? Great question.

Leading by Design is a blog for creative leaders working in tech. It’s not a “Why You Should Use AI in Design Thinking” or “How to Hire and Retain Product Design Teams with Impact” type of blog. There are enough of those.

I write about the challenges you can’t safely discuss as creative leaders working in tech. The stories come directly from my experience leading teams at Apple, Meta, Yahoo!, and some start-ups and from the executive design leaders I coach today.

I have written about the stressful magpie boss, hateful cross-functional peers, creative burnout, the shame of job loss and survivor guilt, and the fear of becoming irrelevant in the marketplace.

I publish once a week and offer strategies to reframe your challenge so you can return to being the creative leader your team loves you to be.

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