Due to conflicting information in the literature, the purpose of this research is to determine whether retired leaders experience despair or a loss of hope. This study interviewed eight male retired leaders, ranging in age from 60 to 82 and retired 1. 5 to 12 years, using a semi-structured interview guide. By analyzing question summaries, this research provided retirement insights from both organizational and individual perspectives. From an organizational perspective, this research builds upon the four exit strategies for organizational leaders, defined by Sonnenfeld 1988 as monarchs, generals, ambassadors, and governors. This research indicates the existence of a fifth exit strategy. While yet unnamed, this exit strategy is generally known as “forced retirement. ” Despite the desires of some of the retired leaders, organizations do not have frameworks to utilize this talent after traditional work roles have terminated. The retired leaders, all but one characterized as ambassadors or governors, did not experience despair. However, moments of frustration or sadness appeared related to existential despair, defined as the ability to transcend present circumstances to alter the status quo. These moments of frustration were caused by the realization of character defects, physical ailments, difficulty in dealing with family members and the inability to mentally separate from the organization itself. Most of the leaders spent little time preparing for retirement. From this research, there appears to be an opportunity to develop frameworks from both organizational and individual perspectives for working and living in the latter half of one’s life. Elements of these frameworks should include expanding the exit strategies for organizational leaders and methods for facilitating the progression of life predefined by the epigenetic principle Erickson, 1959.
Kilbourne, Michelle L.
"Finishing Well: Investigating Despair In Retired Leaders,"
Journal of Business & Leadership: Research, Practice, and Teaching (2005-2012): Vol. 5
, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholars.fhsu.edu/jbl/vol5/iss1/2