Executive Exits

Corporate Germany Should Take a Cue from National Captain Lahm's Classy Exit

Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm, who captained Germany to a World Cup championship, announced his retirement a few days after Germany clinched the title.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The captain of Germany’s World Cup soccer team is leaving at the height of his career, something some local business managers should consider doing, writes the managing editor of Handelsblatt.

  • Facts


    • Business leaders too often cling to their lofty positions for too long, stifling new ideas and the rise of a new generation of executives.
    • Both companies and managers benefit when changes are made.
    • Lateral or even downward moves can reinvigorate executives and restore their passion for the job.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

Even amid the current euphoria over winning the World Cup soccer championship in Brazil, German soccer fans are worried.

The question of whether coach Joachim Löw will resign at the peak of his fame or return to pursue another championship run hangs like the sword of Damocles over the nation’s fans, especially since the surprising announcement that German team captain Philipp Lahm is retiring at the tender age of 30.

A world-class player, Mr. Lahm was under no pressure to quit and was expected to be an important part of the German national team in 2018, but he wanted to go out as a champion. He leaves with the echoes of cheering masses in his ears and at a time when all of Germany will regret his exit. He’ll always be remembered for his play in Rio de Janeiro.

Soccer fans may lament Mr. Lahm’s decision, but he is simply acting on a popular German phrase: “Stop when things are best.” Sadly, when it really matters, few people are as smart as Mr. Lahm, particularly in the business community.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.