How Long Should Leaders Stay With One Company?

Many things have changed in our work worlds and one of them is whether longevity at one particular organization is helpful in our careers. Does spending a large part of our careers at one place matter? Is it a positive or a negative for our career growth?

Should you stay or should you go?

In a leadership program this week, I worked with leaders who had spent the majority of their careers at one company. They were actually deciding on their next crossroad and I was helping them with strategies for their Second Acts. For each of them, Act 2 was going to look a little different and we worked hard and also had fun dreaming about their next move.

How long should leaders stay with a company?

 PROS

 We can make a real impact on an organization

Spending many years at one company enables us to add a great deal of value and be a big part of the company’s direction.

We create family-type relationships

When a leader grows most of their career at one organization they are more able to form deeper work relationships. In fact, these connections often result in friendships for life. Longevity leads to being part of family life cycles and events.

We learn all aspects about how a company runs

If we are able to rotate through different job responsibilities and departments within one institution and we work there over a period of years, leaders likely will gain an enormous understanding of a company. This is a great plus in cultivating a big picture perspective.

We feel it is our home away from home

I know many leaders who feel so comfortable in their offices or workplaces that it truly becomes a home away from home. They connect to their familiar surroundings with ease and grace. Their work worlds and personal worlds intersect seamlessly.

We develop mastery over our jobs

When leaders have longevity in a particular position they can become extraordinary experts and resources to the rest of their team and organization. If they are givers, they become natural mentors for team members and colleagues.

CONS

We can get stuck and fail to grow

Of course the obvious negative in staying in one spot too long can mean we stunt our growth. This happens to leaders who aren’t open to trying new responsibilities or stepping outside to another organization. We can even become risk-adverse when we stay somewhere that doesn’t challenge us.

We can spend too much time there

Just as a pro for longevity was feeling comfortable, staying too long can alternatively entice us to spend too many hours in our work spaces. We can turn to our offices to escape personal challenges that can result in unhappy home lives.

We may not cultivate new relationships

Working with new people gives us new ideas and can even energize many of us. But when we stay on the same team with the same team members for a very long time we may miss out on the opportunity to meet new people different from us. We may get so used to hearing the same opinions that we forget there may be solutions we haven’t considered.

We may fail to see outside perspectives

If we aren’t peeking outside of our organizations through networking or conferences or reading, we will not be able to lead with fresh eyes. We may just stick with what we see in the company we’ve been working for many years and be blind to changes going on outside of our workplaces. Leading this way can bring down a team or an organization.

How long have you stayed with one organization? What were your pros and cons?

3 thoughts on “How Long Should Leaders Stay With One Company?

  1. The longest I stayed with an organization was just over 11 years. I stayed that long because I continued to be challenged. Over the eleven years, I worked in two business lines and in multiple positions. Even when I was in the consulting division, I did project based work which meant a new challenge was always around the corner (even though I stayed multiple years with the same client). Ultimately I left because my life changed and my husband and I were starting a family. I had to ask myself, despite all that I loved about the company, could I live my values of putting family in the forefront and stay with the organization.

    It was nerve-wracking moving into a new organization where I didn’t know the lay of the land and they didn’t know all I could do. It was also never quite the same. In our second act, we shouldn’t look to recreate where we were but open our hearts and minds to what’s next.

    What a cool program to run and how wonderful that your client values helping their leaders make that transition when the time is right for them.

    Alli

  2. I had a lot of fun dreaming with the participant’s about their second acts. There is so much to consider, not just finances but how they were going to spend their time. Without planning for a transition, it is difficult to have a successful Act 2. Since many of them spent the bulk of their careers with one organization, this next change is going to be enormous. You have had to make enormous transitions too and I am sure you have learned so much about yourself and your passions.

    Thanks Alli!

  3. Wow Terri could I relate to this! I’ve done both. Experiencing some of the sweetest benefits of staying longer and some of the organizational mess that comes with people staying too long.

    On the flip side of that I worked with a global company that had many long-term employees but moved them around every two years. (The thought process was that it eliminated comfort zones and made everyone more well rounded.)

    The downsides were many:
    1. If the person in the role before you – it was easy to fake it for two years, creating a big mess for the next person without being discovered.
    2. Teamwork, customer service and vendor relationships would dive for at least 6 months, every two years.
    3. As people changed roles they almost always brought their network with them. (Which can be a good thing.) Often creating comfort zones, limiting fresh perspectives and slowing innovation.

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