Recently, I posted the first of this series on the ABCs of Leading by Greatness. In that post, I discussed the importance of authenticity. This week I'd like to talk about mastery. As I define it in the book, leaders who lead by greatness master their defensive instincts and are always able to choose an appropriate response to the most testing of challenges.
When I felt rejected I turned against departing employees. Early in the history of BzzAgent, my fourth startup, a key employee gave notice. I was bitter and frustrated and responded as many do: I started treating him like an outsider, re-crafted his image to the rest of the organization (actually he wasn't great), and began the process of working around him. Within two weeks, the divide was huge; we exchanged half-hearted goodbyes and he left with a shrug. And even though today we still share similar interests and are active in the same business communities, we don't have a relationship. Indeed, we hardly speak.
When they [employees] leave, bosses should thank them for their time and their contributions. In fact, a company's relationship with corporate alums should be fostered, beginning at the moment that you decide to stop working together. It doesn't matter who makes that decision. If handled appropriately, relationships with former employees can be a source of immense, incredible benefits for both parties.