RegulationCorporate GovernanceWhen is the right time to step aside?

When is the right time to step aside?

Paul Lees, founder of conference call provider Powwownow, is stepping aside as CEO. He looks at the importance of knowing when the time is right to move on

WHEN I FOUNDED Powwownow in 2004, I whole-heartedly believed it would be a success, otherwise what’s the point in embarking on the journey? However, ten years on, I am pleased to say that the size of operations we currently have is better than I expected. I step aside with the company in an extremely healthy place and safe in the knowledge that with the right people present, it will continue to grow and develop.

Now is the right time for me to step aside as I feel the time has arrived for a new challenge and I feel enthusiastic my knowledge and experience can help others succeed as I have. The time may be right for me to move on, but it is not always easy for professionals to know just ‘when’.

The best way to view it is that projects and relationships run their natural cause and a parting of ways can often be amicable and the best thing for all parties. Looking specifically at the accountancy and finance sectors, clients may decide to leave and it is the reaction to this which is key. It may not be through inadequate work on your behalf, it may simply be a change is warranted and the time is right to walk away.

Has the appetite waned?

Attempting to hold on to a business relationship which isn’t working or, worse still, letting a departure affect you too severely, is purely counter-productive. I think it is crucial for people to have an appetite and a thirst for their job and if thoughts to the contrary are creeping in then it may be time to consider alternative options.

In any position, whether you are running a business or not, you have to have total trust in your colleagues. Allowing people to show their expertise and ultimately get on with their jobs will often yield the greatest results. Having this ability will allow employees to develop naturally, enabling them to relish greater responsibility. Knowing that the people around you will be able to continue the growth of your brainchild is of vital importance and has certainly made my decision far easier.

Whether it is stepping away from a business internally or externally, knowing when to do so can have a huge impact on any further potential contact. A client leaving at the right time can leave the door open for repeat business and walking away from your own business, at the right time, creates a fruitful future for both parties.

Paul Lees is co-founder and former CEO, Powwownow

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