If I put in 30 years at the mill, they will send me home with a gold watch and hire a younger guy to do my job, but if I built the company they will make me the President Emeritus.
Hopefully, the Emeritus title is more than just honouring the old guy who can no longer keep up: it should be a statement of commitment to build on what he built, run with the vision he cast, and draw from the lessons he learned. It’s a commitment to carry his accomplishments forward.
Succession is a transference of vision, it’s the next step to an ever-expanding future. There is no simple management process to succession because it’s not the property, projects or people we are passing on – it’s the vision. The management stuff must take a back seat to the heart stuff. Long meetings about new policies to secure future plans and property will miss the mark unless the vision is caught by the succeeding generation. When succession becomes a heart issue, all the other stuff will fall into it’s proper place of equipping the successors.
In Genesis 49 Jacob called his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what your future holds. Gather yourselves together, hear, listen, and pay attention to your father.”
Jacob was leaning on his cane; they might have to carry you up onto the stage, but smile big because the young ones are inspired by what you’ve accomplished. This is the final, and maybe greatest part of your vision: to go out as a biography of integrity, wisdom and godliness – that others can follow.
Here’s the flip side: If you’re the old guy, don’t be the emeritus for the sake of your own significance, or to maintain control – it’ll backfire on you because they are going to follow their own convictions anyway. You’ve had your day to teach, train and lead, and now it’s time to prophecy and encourage.
What should we expect from senior leaders that will help us be better leaders?