Change Culture Leadership Trust

Why the great resignation starts with you!

Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose. Those are the three key drivers that create drive in people’s life.

People leave managers, not companies.

Read that again.

People leave managers, not companies.

NB. The quote does not say: people leave leaders, not companies.

Leaders vs. Managers. A subtle difference with significant consequences.

People don’t leave true leaders.

This week, I was personally confronted with a few stories of people leaving companies because of their managers.

They just didn’t feel they could be who they are and lead the way they wanted. The challenge was there, but the independence and the autonomy to lead were lacking.

When that’s the case, people burn out. Sooner or later.

And if autonomy is lacking, and on top, the challenge is also not there, people get bored. We need the challenge and the freedom to lead the way we are.

People want a clear direction and then the latitude to do their thing.

Just ask Daniel Pink or read his book Drive.

Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose. Those are the three key drivers that create drive in people’s life.

If you’re happy in your work life right now, the chances are that at least one of those three is present.

The model is insanely simple. But few really get it.

It’s so simple that I’m almost embarrassed to talk about it (again).

Here are the steps:
  • When leaders inspire and grow their people, those people engage.
  • When people are engaged and grow, they serve customers better.
  • When customers feel they’re being acknowledged and served, they stay and return.
  • When customers return, value is created.


I’m not making this up. I’ve seen it work. Consistently and sustainably.

So why do people leave?

Why do we hear so much about the great resignation?

Why is the talent market completely shaken up now?

Because people have recognized that something is missing in their lives.

Covid has opened many people’s eyes that life is more than just working your behind off for a manager who doesn’t acknowledge who you are and what you need.

Covid has also made companies and managers aware that their business model may no longer work.

The great transformation has begun and results in the great resignation.

Shoot! What now?

Take the model and work your way backward.
  • We want to create value. Most old-fashioned managers still talk about shareholder value, but that idea is outdated. Value these days goes far beyond just shareholder value.
  • We want our customers to shop with us. Clearly. But do they want to shop with you? Business models are turned upside down. Digital channels are being created.

And that’s where in most cases, the transformation begins and ends. Focused on the delivery models to customers.


A few steps are often forgotten.

Steps that lead to the great resignation:

  • How do we engage and grow our own people? How do we create a flexible work culture where individual needs are met?
  • How do we help our leaders be the leaders we need to lead our people and the transformation? What’s acceptable and what’s no longer sufficient.

Dear manager, transformation is about people!

So, if you see people leaving out the door and wonder why that is, start by looking in the mirror.

The chances are that the great resignation started with you.

Your turn: how do you engage and grow your people?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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