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The Great Resignation (#46)

The Confident Leader

Leaders are fighting attrition and struggling to stem the tide of the Great Resignation. At the same time, they are seeking to hire to increase capacity given the demand for their products and services. The push pull is leaving them doubtful about their greatest asset, their talent.

Good leaders organize and align people around what the team needs to do. Great leaders motivate and inspire people with why they are doing it. That’s purpose. And that is the key to achieving something truly transformational.
— Marillyn Hewson

This Week’s Edition

What is the Great Resignation? Why are people leaving in droves? For the people that are left, what are they thinking? How can leaders right the ship and hold onto their talent?

Clarify Your Thinking

Almost every leader I encounter is talking about how to retain their people.  Employees are leaving their current employment in numbers so significant it merits its own name – The Great Resignation.


Attrition is striking fear in some leaders who believe they may be on the precipice of losing a vast number of their workforce. This produces doubt about their leadership.


The media is claiming that the departure is related to three main things:

1.   The changing generation

2.   The economic crisis and

3.   A work from home culture focused more on family time


This succinct set of reasons doesn’t give the leader much to work with by way of stemming the potential departure onslaught. I hear leaders respond by saying, “Robin, I can’t do anything about the new generation coming online. I didn’t cause the economic crisis, and the work from home movement is not sustainable for the type of business I want to run.” 


While understandable, these thoughts only deepen their leadership doubt and do not promote the leadership actions necessary to retain key talent.


Old Thinking: The leader’s behind-closed-doors reaction is, “Do they not know the sacrifices I had to make to keep their jobs during Covid? Their bonus is having a job. I’m shocked at their lack of gratitude. Plus, we’re going to have to work even harder to succeed in the post-Covid world.”


New Thinking: I’ve got to be more curious. I have to ask questions while taking the risk that I will hear information I don’t want to hear. Why are people on my team leaving? For those who are left, what are they thinking?


post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

A deeper look reveals the root cause of these departures. The exit interviews my leaders have done have shown the following:


1.   The Covid workload was exhausting

2.   The lack of bonuses and decreased compensation is hard to live with

3.   I don’t feel connected to the organization any longer

4.   No one is recognizing or appreciating my effort and accomplishments


While these things may be hard for leaders to hear, they represent opportunities. For example, a leader I coach spent months preparing his succession plan. As a key element to the plan, he offered one person a position on the executive team as the CEO in waiting. She said, “no.”


At a loss for what to do next, he resorted to putting all his cards on the table by asking his team what they thought. This generated a set of long conversations taking place over several weeks. The result was:

·       A newly structured executive team

·       Creating new leadership positions

·       Reassigning responsibilities and reporting structure

·       A new functional area of the business

·       A recommitment by the employees to stay with the company through the next phase of growth


This CEO’s courage to engage the team on leadership decisions he had not previously discussed with them created renewed energy, a stronger commitment to the purpose of the organization and a sense that each person on the team felt valued.


Next Steps

1.   Begin engaging each team member in conversations about their current role

2.   Ask what thoughts they have about the organization

3.   Find out what they want to do in the future


Boost Your Performance

CEOs around the country are getting with the program… crowd-sourcing their leadership. Sometimes the best ideas come from the people closest to the task. Gone are the days when the top leader is believed to have all the answers. Find out in this week’s video how this CEO sought out tough conversations with his team and see if you have the courage to do the same.

What’s Your Opinion?

How do you manage the Great Resignation? Let me know at  

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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