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Over the summer, I caught up with Susan, one of my favorite college classmates, over brunch. Even though Susan and I never worked together, I always admired and loved working with her on school projects. We both became consultants at different firms. Over the years I continued to run into Susan and her colleagues at the airport so we stayed in touch quite often.

To no surprise, Susan’s colleagues gushed time and time again about her. She was smart, hardworking, politically savvy, and had a very likable personality. She was the go-to person for clients, coworkers, and leadership alike. I watched over the years as Susan continued to climb up the ladder at her firm and we would joke about her eventually fulfilling her world domination plans. On the outside looking in, it seemed like the sky was the limit for Susan’s career and the firm she worked at was a slam dunk.

Until it wasn’t.

Susan recently handed in her resignation and this news came as a surprising blow to her former firm.

For Susan, this was years in the making.

Why did Susan, a long time firm rockstar and a favorite leader, decide to leave? A changing culture.

“When I joined the firm 13 years ago, the leadership created an amazing culture of high growth, development, and community. But over the years, many of the leaders I grew up with retired. And then the firm started hiring a lot of new leaders with different values because of their ability bring in revenue.

What the leaders failed to realize is that this changed the culture of the firm over time. I do not recognize or identify with the company anymore.”

I asked Susan, “What about your leadership team, mentors & sponsors? Where do they stand in all of this?”

Susan replied, “Yes, I have had an amazing support system of leaders over the year. But the culture had gotten so bad that even they cannot change it either.”

Up until my meeting with Susan, I had always believed that people quit leaders not companies. But then I realized that there is probably another way to look at it. It is more than just leaders.

People do not just quit companies or leaders…they quit organizational cultures.