Lessons from LeBron: Bad Break-Ups Can Damage Your Brand

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The way someone leaves an organization says a lot about their character and the repercussions of a poor exit may be felt for years to come.

For instance: Set aside your opinions about LeBron James's basketball skills and stop dreaming about what you'd buy with his salary. Instead, take a minute and consider his recent exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he broke every rule in the career management book. Although on a much smaller scale, you've probably seen similar behavior from exiting colleagues.

LeBron offers us some valuable lessons:

- Respect your boss. Your boss shouldn't hear about your departure through the rumor mill, a Tweet, a Facebook post or another employee. Once you've decided to leave, tell your boss, in person, before you share the news with co-workers. Your boss deserves to hear the news directly from you, even if you didn't always see eye-to-eye.

- Be gracious. Even if you're very angry, remain composed and professional and thank your boss for the opportunity. It's okay to offer some constructive criticism if asked, but be selective in what you say, and don't engage in personal attacks. Anyone can damage their brand through a bad exit, and taking the high road actually increases your value.

- Keep a low profile. Don't boast about your new job to colleagues or try to recruit them before you leave. Remember, some of them like their jobs and the company, and they might be offended by your comments and behavior. You never know when your paths may cross again, and a former co-worker could certainly put the kibosh on a future opportunity. If colleagues express an interest in joining you, wait until you leave the company before contacting them.

- Be humble. Do you need a healthy dose of self-confidence? Absolutely. Are you irreplaceable? Probably not. Arrogance and overconfidence put people off and can lead to a career downfall. Be humble when describing your new opportunity, so others will respect your decision and won't resent your success.

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