Change is inevitable - particularly if you are a two-term president and vice president. As Bill Clinton and Al Gore depart the White House this weekend and the Bush administration takes charge, it will be fascinating to watch the next career moves of both men.
Future positions for both have been widely speculated in the media, with potential positions ranging eclectically from media personality to university president. That's the beauty -- and challenge -- for today's senior executive.
Bill Clinton and Al Gore are not that different than other powerful people in transition: they need to spend time identifying their ideal career prospects, developing strategies to achieve their goals, building a team of family, friends and consultants to help them, and, finally, weighing competitive offers.
Here is how Keystone Partners would advise Clinton and Gore to approach their first days away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
- Maintain Perspective - Evaluate the relationship between their career and personal happiness. It's critical to maintain a positive attitude toward themselves, their families, friends, ex-employers, Republicans.
- Acknowledge Emotions - Denying emotion only delays progress. They should allow themselves to vent safely with trusted family and friends and then move on. No use dwelling on dimpled chads.
- Craft a Public Statement - This concisely summarizes the reason for their departure and focuses on positive attributes and accomplishments. It should be positive in tone (no excuses, no regrets, and no legal appeals) and focused on what they see as the ideal next step.
- Assess Your Performance and Situation - Objectivity is the key. Keystone suggests a thorough assessment where Clinton and Gore would identify several personal and professional associates to provide objective appraisals of strengths and weaknesses. These assessments - which would be sure to be colorful in these cases - would give Clinton and Gore an objective view of their strengths, interests and preferred skills.
- Reference Development - Keystone recommends Clinton and Gore secure several positive references from individuals who can knowledgeably speak about their accomplishments, strengths and skills. With a 65 percent approval rating as they leave office, this shouldn't be a problem.
- Accept the Support of Others - Clinton and Gore should let their families know what they are feeling and how they can be of assistance. They should also acknowledge the adjustments their families will need to make. In this particular case, also, shouldn't Hillary be acknowledging Bill and the adjustments he has to make moving to the New York suburbs.
- Never Apologize for Situation - Don't allow for any loss of self-esteem. They should accept that they are not their job title and that they are the same (or even better) people than before they left the job. If they haven't learned that after surviving and thriving under the legal microscope, they never will.
Even the most powerful individuals need to reinvent themselves periodically. The advice here is relevant to you. Take a close look at yourself and your current position. Follow the above steps and don't be afraid of where it leads you. You'll be taking intellectual control of your career path while gaining the resources necessary to make confident, profitable decisions.
Elaine Varelas is Managing Partner of Business Development at Keystone Partners, a Boston career management firm that specializes in easing executives through the special challenges and opportunities presented by career transition. To learn more, visit http://www.keystoneassociates.com or call (781) 238-1800.