More Executives Are Quitting Their Jobs, Should You?

Photo Credit: Mek Frinchaboy

By Courtney Connley

Contemplating a new job or career change? You're far from alone. While much attention has been given to entry and mid-level employees who are joining the Great Resignation, data shows that chief executives and those in leadership positions are experiencing record turnover. In fact, the number of departing CEOs in the last quarter of 2021 was up 16% year-over-year, with some experts saying that this quarter could bring an even higher wave of exits.

Similar to their staff, executives are experiencing burn out, exhaustion, and a disproportionate balance of work and home life, causing many to consider a new job, industry change, or retiring from the workforce altogether. According to a report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, 53% of C-Suite executives have struggled with mental health issues in the wake of the global pandemic, sparking many leaders to take stock of whether their current job is still meeting all their needs.

Before you make the leap, we spoke to three Chief executive coaches to identify the questions you should ask yourself as a C-Suiter considering a transition.

Have You Achieved What You Set Out to?

When thinking about a career transition, Chief Guide Henna Pryor, Founder of Pryority Group, says leaders should be very intentional about reflecting on where they are in their career and if they accomplished what they planned to do in that role. ''For most people when they join a company or take on a position, there was some reason for why they decided to do it,'' she says. ''They had some goals when they started the job and a track they wanted to work towards. So, if you take some time to actually reflect on those, you can do a bit of a barometer check on whether there is still something left to aspire to, or if you've reached that proverbial point already.''

For some leaders, she says, they may realize that they've reached their potential at a company and it's time to move on. For others, thinking about the ''why factor'' when it comes to your current role can help you decide if there is in fact more room for you to grow where you are, and if the solution to your problem isn't a career change, but rather a much-needed vacation from work. ''Growth isn't always title-based,'' says Pryor. ''It's not always, ‘Can we climb further up the corporate ladder?' In this day and age, there are sometimes opportunities to reinvent your role, add new projects, create new channels, and add some new industry knowledge.''

Before pulling the plug, Pryor encourages leaders to have a conversation with their boss to see what opportunities are available at their current company that can help to reinvigorate their job.

Have You Leveraged Your Connections?

When deciding whether to stay in your current role or leave, utilizing your network should be your first stop in determining the decision. ''What are your relationships where you are [because] you might have incredible leverage to create more of what you want,'' says Chief Guide Jackie Sloane, executive coach and President of Sloane Communications. In many situations, she says she's found that leaders haven't relied on the great connections they have at their current job to see if the changes they want to happen could take place.

In the event that your company relationships aren't helping you to get the support that you need, then Pryor says you should tap into your external network to see if the organizations and industries you're thinking about switching to align with your goals. Before applying to jobs and going on interviews, Pryor suggests leaders ''have exploratory conversations with people who work in the industries that seem interesting to [them].'' This can include reaching out to people you are already connected to, or sending a message to someone you have a mutual connection with via a personal friend or LinkedIn contact.

''Everybody who does this is always surprised to find out that the people they reach out to are more than happy to share their experiences,'' she says. ''So before you start to decide what this next industry [or job] should be, get a clear picture of what that looks like and if that is transferable for you.''

Have You Assessed the Personal Impact of a Career Change?

Though career transitions can bring about lots of professional opportunities, it's important for leaders to also think about the personal responsibilities they carry and how the pressure of a new job might affect it. ''I always say take a good look at the rest of your life,'' says Sloane. ''Is this a good time for a change for you given everything else going on like family concerns because whenever you make a change there is often an incredible amount of, not just learning new tasks and learning the environment, but also learning relationship dynamics in that role.''

Some key reading before making the leap? Sloane suggests Leadership Transitions, which can help leaders step into their new position equipped with the tools needed to take charge. ''A lot of people don't realize that in your first few weeks everybody is looking at you and everybody is paying attention to everything you are doing,'' she says, emphasizing that the relationship dynamics and demands of a new job is something that leaders should not underestimate.

Once asking yourself these questions, if the answer is for you to fly the coop, then do it with gusto and clarity. After more than 25 years working in asset management, Chief Guide Christine Scordato resigned to start her own business. ''I wanted the chance to take control,'' she says. ''And, I wanted the chance to bet on myself.''

Have you listened to the Chief podcast? Tune into "The New Rules of Business" as Chief Co-Founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan unpack today's often nuanced, dichotomous leadership challenges to change how executives do business. Follow wherever you get your podcasts.