When Succession Becomes Legacy

On the heels of yesterday’s post about Apple’s attention to detail, came the historic business news that Steve Jobs had resigned as Apple’s CEO in a letter to his Board.

Certainly, Jobs’ hand on the helm did more for Apple than most companies could ever dream of. But I was very curious to read his entire letter, as my father always quoted King Solomon in saying, “It is more important how you leave a place than how you enter it.”

In his letter Jobs is as concise and efficient as expected, soft-spoken and honoring. But there was one section in particular that caught my eye:

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

And then it hit me: what’s my succession plan?

The fact is, we’re all going to be fazed out. Terminated. Pink-slipped. Whether in our job or in life, someone – or something – is going to replace us.

The question must be asked then, are we planning for it? Or when it happens, will it catch everyone off guard, including–

(You may not even be able to finish your own sentence).

Good leaders plan for their end, and position replacements accordingly. That’s just good leadership. Because you care about the people and the entities you’re leaving behind. Or else you wouldn’t have risen to that place of stewardship to begin with. (Notice I don’t place Gaddafi in either the leadership or stewardship departments).

Within the first year of our marriage I took out a life insurance policy. Whether I was replaced by another loving husband or not, as a leader I wanted the provisional need felt in my absence to be taken care of. That’s good leadership.

As a Youth Pastor, I know it’s not my call to fill that role forever, so I’m actively preparing the guy that will replace me as I move into my next season of local church leadership.

And as a Christian on the earth, one advancing the Kingdom for God’s glory, I’m training up my children in the ways they should go, believing they will do more, win more, believe more, travel more, love more, live more, and see more for Jesus than I ever could.

In light of those ideas, preparing a succession plan becomes a joy. Because I’m leaving a legacy, not a position.

Is yours in place? ch:

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  • Christian Fahey

    “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Steve Jobs, 1983, Central Park to then Pepsico CEO John Sculley). And Jobs did it!

    • What a great line! I’d heard that before, but it’s been a while. John Sculley, as I understand it, did have an initial role with Apple.

      • Christian Fahey

        Yeah he did. When Jobs asked that question, he did so after wooing Sculley for 3 days in NYC. Asked him to leave a VERY lucrative job as Pepsi prez for a chance to change the world (at very modest pay to begin with). Sculley bit and served as Apple’s prez for a number of years. A tribute to Jobs and the fact he believed so strongly in what he and Woz were doing that this man left millions behind to help change the world. THAT’S power and vision!

        • Indeed! Oh, to be a fly on the wall back in those early meetings. Wouldn’t it have been fun to pull a Back to the Future and show them a pic of an iPhone as well as their stock performance?

          • Way!!! It was a remarkable period, for Jobs especially. He was willing to pay Sculley $1,000,000.00/yr out of his own pocket to bring him to Apple. SJ otally believed in what he, Woz and crew were doing and was absolutely prescient about the future. Inspiring story. (Yes, CKH–you are chuckling–I have John Sculley’s autobio “Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple…The Journey of A Marketing Impresario” in our library. You’re welcome to scope it out.)

          • Yes please. 🙂

  • Jason Clement

    Once again… ridiculously good post, I have a lot of work to do.

    One of favorite (at times most hated) Jobs quotes from a commencement address delivered in 2005…

    “…for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

    I hope he smiled at his reflection this morning.

    • What an incredible quote! Wow.

      Lord, help us live our lives in honor of the joyous purposes you intended we fulfill while here.

  • Jason Clement

    You should check out the hand he had in keeping Pixar alive during the early years as well…

    • I’ve read about that. Pretty much we have him to thank for anything cool today. 😉

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