BBC chief Tony Hall will step down in six months, he told the team on Monday, as the British broadcaster faces a preliminary ruling on equal pay and scrutiny.
"I will give this organization my all for the next six months … but in the summer I will step down from its director general," he told the team in a group email.
“If I followed my heart, I would never really want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the organization's interests first. "
Hall took office in 2013, charged with restoring the reputation of the world's largest broadcaster after host Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders after his death.
But the company now faces the consequences of an equal pay decision, in which an employment tribunal ruled that it discriminated against presenter Samira Ahmed, paying her a sixth of the amount given to Jeremy Vine for hosting a similar program.
The decision opens the door to many other claims and could end up costing the corporation many millions of pounds.
The BBC is also facing pressure from Britain's new government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who accuses him of bias in reporting in the recent general elections.
Hall rejected the allegations in his farewell email, saying, "In an era of false news, we remain the gold standard for fairness and truth."
The government previously pledged to maintain the license fee model until 2027. A standard license costs each British family just over £ 154 (202, 182 euros) per year.
In the last fiscal year through April 30, the BBC received £ 3.7 billion in license fee financing – an enviable revenue stream in difficult economic times for media companies.
The prime minister said that "you need to ask yourself if this kind of approach to funding a TV media organization still makes sense".
"How long can you justify a system that everyone with a TV needs to pay to finance a specific set of TV and radio channels," he asked, highlighting the challenge for the new boss.
BBC President David Clementi called Hall "an inspiring creative leader, within the UK and around the world".
"Tony led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who knows him," he said.
Hall, 68, is a former BBC news chief, but spent more than a decade as executive director of the Royal Opera House before returning to the station as managing director.
The BBC said it would start looking for a successor "within the next few weeks".