In the business world, when a person dies, the first question is how and why. The second question is who will we get to replace them? The family members of the person that has passed away never ask that second question. The spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents never ask who will replace them because they will grieve and remember for the rest of their lives.
I was having this discussion with a high-level executive recently and he was laboring under the idea that the business could not go on without him. I gave him three examples; Earlier this year one of the most loved CEOs in the country died and within a month, the company’s stock was up 20%. All his employees and executive team just moved on. Another very close friend of mine died last June, and it wasn’t long before his staff was cleaning out his office. The best example was President FDR. To my knowledge he was the only president to ever serve three terms and was probably the most beloved president besides Lincoln.
What a lot of people don’t remember was that FDR died in April 1945, but it was his vice president Harry Truman, that 120 days later (August 1945) saved America by making the decision to drop the two atomic bombs. That ended the war with Japan and the war in Europe with Germany finally ended the next month in September even though Germany had surrendered that May. Harry Truman’s decisions saved thousands of American lives and years of two wars that had no end. So, as beloved as FDR was, it was his vice president Harry Truman that stepped in when no one thought FDR could be replaced and saved America.
My point to my friend was this; corporate America may grieve a day, a week or maybe even a month but then they move on. The pictures on your refrigerator are of the people that will carry your memory with them. Therefore, be careful to which group you give your attention and your love to. KT