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Next up: Why a leader steps down

Retirement is inevitable, and every lead must eventually move on.

2 min read


Bob Stoops

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Coaches are hired to be fired.

Bob Stoops, longtime head football coach of the University of Oklahoma, inverted that dictum. He retired on his own terms. After 17 years of winning, including recent back-to-back Big 12 titles as well as a national title, Stoops stepped aside in 2017.

“The coaching life is like a relay race,” said Stoops in a statement, “and I’m thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton.”

Stoops’ decision to retire raises questions about the nature of when and why leaders retire.

A leader’s legacy is a sum of pluses and minuses. Ideally, you want the pluses to outweigh the minuses so a leader retires from an organization that is thriving.

But when you know you have done your best, there is nothing more to say. Or, as used to be said upon the death of a king, “The king is dead, long live the king.”

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2018, Trust Across America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Trust. Also in 2018, named Baldoni a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Global Gurus ranked him No. 22 on its list of top 30 global experts, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2014, named Baldoni to its list of top 50 leadership experts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

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