Executive Transition

Posted by & filed under Executive Coaching.


The day began with a phone call from the VP HR of a professional services firm which I have been working with for several years now.


Scott is retiring, and you have to help him… otherwise he’s gonna’ DIE, the poor man”.


Scott has given his whole life to the firm. Senior Managing Partner, his last 25+ years were focused on building this wonderful giant. The merger with another organization represented a merger of cultures and processes. Scott’s leadership style did not “fit” the current organizational needs anymore.  So, he was retiring.

After meeting Scott to discuss the situation, we decided that it might be valuable to talk about his Future Identity… Especially since after I asked him what he intends to do after the retirement, he said he’d like to “stay on the board of the firm and do some consulting gigs with them”.  To my surprise, Scott really thought that life would continue on in the same rhythm as before. Maybe with a bit more time for an occasional game of golf.

And then came another phone call – this time from Scott’s wife. In this short conversation I was told in a soft sweet voice that, besides her career, her life was filled by her book club, her tennis girls, her art classes and her volunteer work and if Scott thought he could just retire, come home and play husband he was grossly mistaken.

Scott and I did an inventory of his life focus – from his public persona, through his leisure activities, his personal and to his inner/private life. The scene showed a robust set of activities on the professional side and a sad desert beyond.

We looked closer at what interested Scott – at what gave him joy and satisfaction – a challenging conversation since his first answer was focused really only on work.

To date, Scott’s life was full of unfulfilled dreams (“I would love to travel and visit places, but since I travel so much for my work, I’m tired of wasting my life at the airport having no time for fun”) and regrets (“I have always worked so hard, I missed my son’s childhood”).

Scott decided to make some changes.  He called it “Giving Real Meaning to Life”.

He decided to focus on two things:

  1. Family and
  2. Lifestyle

On the Family side, we had a challenge. Scott’s son did not come running to newly open parental arms and Scott’s wife needed to some.… persuasion to become re-engaged in the relationship with her husband.

It was easier to adjust the Lifestyle. Building on an admiration for foreign worlds, Scott started slowly with a cruise or two, cooking classes, Spanish lessons and a hiking club.


It’s 18 months later now…

Scott sits on two Boards – his firm’s and a non-for profit one.

His Spanish is developing quite rapidly – thanks to disciplined classes combined with visiting Spanish-speaking countries. His paella is outstanding.  I can attest to that.

He is planning a challenging trip to fundraise for his cause.

Slowly he reconnected with his son and plays an active role in the life of his grandson.

I saw him on a street with his wife. They were on the way to a concert.  They looked beautiful.


Aaah….. Who says retirement is bad?



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