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January 29, 2007
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 The H.R. Doctor Is In

An Exit Most Honorable

In a recently published article, The HR Doctor provided a step-by-step “owner’s manual” for the creation of an agency succession plan. However, a key ingredient to succession is the appearance of a vacancy. This can be a new position or a vacancy arising from the departure of an employee.

Departures are primarily built around happy events. A person accepts another position in career advancement locally or across the country. A person reaches the point in their life when they decide to retire.

However, a vacancy can also be the result of tragic circumstances such as death or criminal conviction. It can also be the unfortunate outcome of disabilities that leave the employee unable to fulfill required duties and responsibilities. It can also result from being fired for failure of performance or behavior at work.

However, this is an article about a vacancy created by the extraordinarily honorable departure of an extraordinary elected official.

Commissioner Marjorie Conlan of Broward County, Fla. recently sent a letter to all her colleagues with the stunning news that after many years of elective service, she will not run again. This followed a difficult and thoughtful weighing of personal commitments against continued government service. It is a decision many of us make at some point in our careers. The best public servants, whether elected or appointed, leave behind echoes for many years throughout the organization. The echoes are reflections of their strength of character, their caring and their legacy of contributions.

To paraphrase an anonymous saying we should all strive to “…live the kind of life that will lead other people to say that you stood for something wonderful.” That is the legacy of this elected official.

These are terribly difficult and very personal decisions to make, especially when the odds of your being overwhelmingly returned to office are very substantial. Marjorie Conlan’s own words can help in the difficulty of this decision for others.

“Public service is a rewarding experience. It is challenging, life changing, not always fun; but it is always rewarding. Some of those rewards are not fully appreciated until long after the experience has begun. From the moment that I entered public service and raised my right hand to take the oath of my office, I promised myself and my constituents that at any time that I felt unable to commit myself fully to the duties and responsibilities of this office that I would step aside.”

She later referred to Max Depree’s book, The Art of Leadership, in which he said that, “The first responsibility of a leader is to find reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

“It is not a simple thing to walk away from the dais but I know my heart. An unknown author once penned ‘Blessed it is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves.’ I know that this is the best for those who have given me the opportunity to serve over these years and I am truly blessed in my life.”

You are right Margie; you have been blessed in your life with a great family and service to a great community. However, you have also blessed others by standing for something wonderful throughout your public service career. You have made a difference. You have left a positive legacy.

Is there anything more any of us could hope for in meeting our own commitments to our communities, to our families and to our lives?

Best wishes in your own very honorable exit.


Phil Rosenberg
The HR Doctor •


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