Stepping down as the leader of an organization is never an easy decision, but if you must resign, you may as well go out on top.

Jon Stewart's announcement Tuesday that he will leave Comedy Central's The Daily Show shocked TV viewers everywhere, but the timing of the decision makes all the sense in the world. 

Under Stewart's leadership, The Daily Show won 20 Emmy Awards, and last year averaged a solid 2.2 million viewers per night. Unlike CNN host Larry King, who watched his ratings sink toward the end of his tenure, or Piers Morgan, whose departure last year sparked rumors of being fired, Stewart's resignation is unlikely to be marred by any form of controversy. (The same can not be said for late night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien.)

Instead of taking a jab at his employer or breaking down into a teary mess, Stewart made a gracious announcement that was both candid and hilarious. 

"[Comedy Central] gave me an incredible opportunity 17 years ago to pilot this wonderful franchise, and 17 years is the longest I have ever held a job in my life--by 16 years and five months," he said. 

"I don't have any specific plans. I'm going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard form multiple sources are lovely people."

Here are three ways Stewart nailed his resignation announcement.

  • Giving several months notice. While surprise resignations can send shockwaves throughout an entire organization, Stewart softened the blow of his pending departure by making the announcement well in advance of his last daysaying he will leave at some point between July and December.
  • Thanking his critics. Rather than acknowledging only his fans, Stewart graciously expressed his appreciation for even his greatest detractors. "I thank you for watching it, [or] for hate watching it, whatever reason you were tuning in," he said.
  • Focusing on others. Stewart ended his speech by talking not about himself, but about his viewers and colleagues. "This show doesn't deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you," he said. "I'm going to miss coming here every day. I love the people here. They're the best."

What did you think of Stewart's resignation announcement? Tell us in the comments below.