An Effective Leader Knows When to Burn Bridges

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” -Scottish guitarist David Russell

“Never burn bridges” generally means don’t leave a relationship on bad terms recklessly.

Okay, I know you are going to say, “you must never burn bridges”. But knowing when to burn a bridge is an essential skill for any leader. Think about burning bridges as a tool in your leadership arsenal. There are many times that burning a bridge is not just beneficial, but absolutely necessary to accomplish your career goals.


There are only so many hours in a day. To be successful you need to be more efficient, get more things done, and prioritize. By keeping every connection and relationship you are bound to get unnecessary calls, e-mails, etc. that will eat up your precious time. Time best served directed at something to make you more successful.  If those connections help you, that is great but if they do not, it is time to strike a match.

Burning a bridge doesn’t mean you hate someone, it simply means you need to shut off that part of your life (perhaps temporarily) because it is not helping you in anyway or simply wasting a lot of your time. The truth is that some people weigh us down and separate us from our priorities. If we are to be leaders and have successful careers, we have to learn to cut the fat or just push it to the side temporarily. By doing this we can focus on priorities.

Of course, there are always ways to “rebuild” a bridge after it has been burned but that is another post….

1 thought on “An Effective Leader Knows When to Burn Bridges

  1. Pingback: Burning Bridges « Public Relations and Other Ruminations

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