Goodbye And Leaders

A favorite musical of mine is The Music Man. A song in The Music Man includes this line—“where is the good in goodbye?” Surely it’s true that in leadership knowing when to say goodbye, when to call it quits and move on, is one of the toughest decisions you’ll ever have to make. Tough.

I’m drawn to this point after the recent primary election defeat of Richard Lugar. His experience ought to give reason to pause. When is it right for you to say enough is enough, it’s time for me to go.

The stories in history surrounding this question could fill a library, ten libraries. One of the first that comes to my mind pertains to George Washington. There were three major occasions when Washington said goodbye to his followers—when he left the army of colonial Virginia in 1759 at 27 years old, when he left the Continental Army of the infant United States in 1783 at 51 years old, and when he left the American presidency in 1797 at 64 years old. In each moment, Washington acted differently as a leader in saying goodbye.  

You’ll say goodbye as a leader. How do you want it to go?