Angela Ahrendts: A Leader's Greatest Legacy Is How They Handle Succession

When Angela Ahrendts stepped down from her coveted CEO seat at Burberry to join Apple, she felt that the company was strong enough to go on without her.

In her recent post on LinkedIn, Ahrendts writes that “too often management transitions are viewed with fear or suspicion” by leaders when they should be seen as a “natural and healthy organizational evolution.” In short, when it’s time to step down, you should do so willingly. Up until that point, Ahrendts says it’s a leader’s

responsibility to prepare their team for that moment.

“I believe succession planning is one of the greatest responsibilities you have as a leader — so when your time comes to move on, your team not only doesn’t miss a beat but gains in momentum, embracing new challenges and realising future opportunities,” says Ahrendts.

In fact, Ahrendts believes that a leader’s ability to handle this transition period is their greatest legacy. When it was announced that Christopher Bailey would be Burberry’s new CEO, Ahrendts says that she felt “such peace” because she had done everything in her power to make sure Burberry would be able to grow without her.

“After years of hiring and fostering the best talent, as well as constantly evolving the organisation to optimise the opportunities available to the brand, the team and the culture have never been stronger,” she says. “Intuitively I knew this meant the time was right for me to exit stage left, trusting that Burberry would only go from strength to strength in its next exciting chapter.”

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