LEAVING a high-profile and powerful position without much ado is quite a feat. Lack of ado, or fuss, is often unavoidable. Some public statement, preferably unremarkable, on the reason for the exit, is called for. (I just couldn’t bring the team to the finals. I need to give some other coach a chance to do this.)

The presumption on sudden exits is usually correct. It was a push. Unless the subject gets a clearly superior job offer.

An “official line” is still needed, even if not necessarily believed. There is this ostensible explanation that friends and relatives can openly discuss when the person concerned is within hearing distance. What is surmised behind the back as to “what really happened” is something else.

Statements should be moderately plausible. The usual exit explanations have to do with health. Expressed is a need to be free of stress and attend to one’s “wellness.” This new term for health includes both physical and mental well-being, not just the absence of illness.

There are jobs that have set terms. There are rules governing their end, as provided for in a constitution, or a gentlemen’s agreement. That there are rumblings for a change in the rules in the middle of the game can only be viewed with suspicion. Still, these laws and handshakes do not deter attempts to extend terms and upset a scheduled transition — I thought you were talking about “germ-sharing” and the need for social distancing.

Unavoidable exits (like being replaced) are publicly explained as: a) needing more hours with the family, who have been neglected in the mad dash for providing for their yearly trips — even when working from home; b) rekindling a neglected hobby like writing a novel or attending to the family farm of organic mushrooms; and c) getting into a new business venture (I am looking into fintech right now).

Exits, anyway, are quickly followed by entrances. Even in a pandemic, there are still people getting hired, even poached. These replacements are introduced in a Zoom meeting even as the exit door has barely closed on the other fleeting figure. As a rule, there are more exits than entrances, even in buildings. After all, the exits for fire need to be provided.

Graceful exits are not always possible.

In case of firing for cause, it is the company that issues the statement which allows no other spin — He is no longer an executive of the company due to his questionable transactions resulting in corporate losses, and the sudden rise in his personal fortune.

Some companies even go to the extent of taking out an ad (in the classified section) with a photo of the departing executive and the unsavory circumstances of his departure. With social media, the digital exit is in real time: this executive no longer represents the company and any transactions entered by him for the company will not be honored. There is a warrant out for his arrest. (Do not even have coffee with him.)

This total repudiation of the exiting employee’s good name leaves little to the imagination. The only hope is that the newspaper used has a low circulation, and the social media posts have no following. But word of mouth takes care of those shortcomings.

There’s not much grace needed when leaving one job for another that is clearly superior. Here, explanations are optional and a public statement is not even required. When asked why one left the old job, there is no call for details on the new compensation package — they gave me a better car. Some generous remarks on the old employer make for a classy exit — that company taught me a lot and I hope I was able to contribute to its sterling reputation. This ensures a few going-away lunches (take me with you) and some crocodile tears.

There are those who do not bother with public statements. When asked why they left such an attractive job with a very hefty pay and fantastic benefits, they merely smile and say quite bluntly — I did not want to go. I was unceremoniously pushed out kicking and screaming. My copious tears did not invite mercy in any form. But I had a good sit package.

The best exits are quiet… just like entrances — is this seat taken? 


Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO, TOUCH xda