Several years ago, I asked a very successful corporate executive this question: “In your opinion, who has left this company in such a fashion that his/her reputation was enhanced because of the way in which their Career Exit Strategy was planned and executed?”

I was meeting with him in order to help him think through his 24 – 36 month exit strategy.  His comments reinforced my observations of the exits that can enhance and pay handsome dividends to the leader’s long-term career brand and exits that diminish the leader’s career brand.

That conversation helped crystalize the elements of the strategy that describes what I call the executive ‘Rock Star’ career maneuver.

Why is it important to have a Career Exit Strategy that pays long-term dividends?

If you were to dissect effective and ineffective career exit strategies, you would discover why some leaders leave companies and are able to enhance their reputation through flawless ‘exit-cution’ (ascendant positioning) and why some de-value their career (descendant positioning).

Illustrated below are the issues, dynamics and results that are operational in voluntary and involuntary career moves.



Voluntary ‘Rock Star’ Exit – This is an announced or industry common knowledge upward move with a flawlessly planned exit including the appropriate communications from the leader’s current company and his/her new company to the news media – in other words, there is a great story to tell!

The leader is recruited in a ‘Rock Star’ manner and then moves on to a bigger role in an equal or more prestigious company resulting in positive ‘buzz’ with an accompanying huge surge in his or her career dividends. This is the optimal way to orchestrate an exit.

Voluntary ‘Strategic’ Exit – Making a strategic move to an equal role in a prestigious company. The move is announced in very favorable terms and quickly becomes industry common knowledge.  It is perceived by all as a growth opportunity.

Voluntary ‘Retirement’ Exit – This is a planned retirement-type exit with a clearly identified, announced ‘what’s next’ role.  This is generally acknowledged as a feather in the cap of the acquiring organization (Board, consulting firm, university, lobby, association, etc.).



Involuntary ‘Company Strategy’ Exit – you are exiting as part of an announced company strategic move to: de-layer; sell certain parts of the non-core business; get back to basics, or hunker down and ride out the economic whiplash.  Since you have been privy to the planning, you have networked with search firms and industry influencers.  Analyst calls have further reinforced the business need for change.  These communications have been targeted, concise, and provide an excellent backdrop to tell your story.

On a positive note, this may be the impetus you need to jump start a stagnant career.

Involuntary ‘Downsizing’ Exit – you were downsized, laid off or you left under a mutual agreement.  Although divisional revenues have been down for the last four quarters, you thought you had more time to turn things around.  You have been so focused on the turnaround that you have not had time to connect with industry leaders or with search firms.  You will need to engage in a traditional “career transition” program.

Involuntary ‘Surprise Ambush’ Exit  – It was a surprise ambush; you were fired and the communication was such that you could be branded as having “reached your peak potential”.  The exit explanation and written communication was void of any mitigating factors.  This scenario has the most negative, career deficit implications and is the absolute worst way to exit a company.

Why is it important to have a Career Exit Strategy that pays long-term dividends?

How you exit your company can have lasting impacts on your future career dividend or career deficit position. Always be ready – a career set-back can happen at any time.  Have a plan for voluntary and involuntary career exits.  Finally, building your network and getting known outside of your company will help you successfully maneuver through voluntary and involuntary career moves.

A Question for you to consider:

  • If you had to exit your current role tomorrow, would you exit like a ‘Rock Star’?

© All rights reserved.

Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management/career transformation strategies and strategic leadership development solutions. To provide you with clarity on how to achieve the next steps in your career, go to and request a complimentary copy of Is Your Career on Track? Assessment and e-Workbook

Email: Phone: 1.940.367.0837

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3 Responses to Career Exit Strategy Alert: When You Exit Like a ‘Rock Star’ You Receive Long-Term Career Success Dividends!

  1. […] Make strategic career moves, carefully craft your onboarding into new roles and when you leave a company – ‘exit like a rock star’. […]

  2. […] Learn from past mistakes.  When PE companies design their Exit Strategy they typically study industry successes and failures.  Employ the same tactic by  researching  executive success stories and designing  your Career Exit Strategy.  A leader can turnaround his/her ‘brand reputation’ from being an ‘also ran’ to being hailed as the next – fair haired, Midas touch, industry innovator, do no wrong – corporate Rock Star. […]

  3. […] a leadership career success plan for 2012 … and beyond, it’s best to start by developing a Leadership Success Mindset and then invest in yourself by writing a dynamic One Page Career Plan. The Plan […]

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