A great leader should step down when their time is up.

Company leader resting on edge of office desk

A great leader should step down when their time is up.

Find a successor and give them the opportunity to lead.


In 1994, the late Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. He did not pursue a second term as President and so he stepped down in 1999 when his term can to an end. In fact, he announced his decision from 1996 and stood by his word. Mandela believed he had fulfilled his purpose in the first term and didn’t see the need to continue. I wish more of us were like Nelson Mandela but of course Mandela was a different kind of leader and was not interested in holding on to power. It seems when some people get in leadership roles, they do not want to step down even though they know their time is up. However, if you are a great leader like Nelson Mandela, you would step down and before you step down, you would find a successor and give them the opportunity to lead even while you are still in charge.

Reasons why some leaders should step down.

Some leaders think they are the only one who can lead and no one else in the organization can do the job. They justify so many reasons as to why they should remain in their role. However, there are so many other reasons why a leader should not remain in their role. When a leader starts to think that the leadership role is all about him or her, then it is time to step down. When a leader has been in role for many years and not providing any new ideas, it is time to step down. I think seven years is an ideal time for a leader to review their role and to consider whether they should remain in the role. Of course, if you are entrepreneur and have your own business, then this does not apply to you.

If you are a leader and there is a high turnover among the managers and staff, then maybe it is a sign that you are the problem and therefore, you should consider stepping down.

If you are an unpopular leader, maybe it is time to step down. If you don’t step down, then more than likely you will get fired and if you are a politician, the people will reject you at the polls.

When there are other people in the organization who are capable or even better than the leader, that leader should consider stepping down. After all, I believe one of the roles of a leader is to train others so that they can assume the leadership roles.

When a leader becomes senile, that leader should consider stepping down. This is why I admire the fact that Robert Kennedy plans to challenge Joe Biden.

When a leader has not achieved the goals of the organization, that leader should consider stepping down. After all, everything centers around leadership.

When a leader remains in a role simply for the prestige, the power, pension, and the perks, that leader needs to step down. Leadership is about getting things done, it is about empowering and satisfying the needs of the people including employees and customers.

When a leader is unhappy in the role and only staying in that role because they don’t know what else they will do, it is time for that leader to step down. It is not fair to the organization.


Mandela is a great example of when leader knows when to step down. There are so many great people who are capable of being great leaders. Give them the chance and stop holding on to positions or trying to return to leadership positions. If you don’t want to step down as a leader that says a lot about you as a leader.

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