If the definition of vampires, zombies and mummies are that they are dead and don't know it, then we are surrounded by these monsters. Vampire institutions. Zombie organizations. Mummified businesses.
Ronald Rolheiser adds to this image as he describes the decomposition of a body in his book, The Holy Longing.
"From the second of death onward we no longer have a body. In fact, we no longer even call it a body, but a corpse. At the second of death, all the chemicals begin to go their own way. Death and decomposition are precisely this. Chemicals which used to work together for a oneness and were, indeed, a oneness, now go their separate ways....Chemicals, going each in their own way. do not make life." p. 13
Does Rolheiser's description of a body's decomposition fit those dead and decomposing organizations that once were alive and enlivening? I believe we find an insight for Third Turn leaders here, and for those who aspire to lifelong leadership. Visionary leaders who inspire others to operational excellence form an organization’s soul. That soul brings the energy that forms an organizational culture and gives it life.
Thus, succession planning cannot just be about who has the requisite skill to replace someone who retires. It is about a soul transplant. Without it, decomposition and decay begin immediately. All that once worked together goes its own way. The chemistry that formed a vibrant life becomes a stench.
Work from here to recover an abandoned mission and reclaim a culture becomes a work of resurrection.
I once would have used the analogy that we are surrounded by institutions dying before they are dead, or dying the piranha death of a thousand bites as they slowly dissipate. I like the analogy that Rolheiser offers even more. These are dead, and we are living next to their rot - contributing to it and being harmed by it. Rolheiser was writing about our souls as individuals. I'm writing about the organizations we form and are formed by. The analogy applies either way.
Is there any hope here?
For any of us leading from vision, gathering people to breathe life into that vision, and believing the vision can continue as a benefit after we pass from the scene, YES. We must learn to understand the essential element of succession as a soul transplant, and then plan, recruit, and act accordingly.
Are there examples we might look to?
Moses to Joshua
David to Solomon
Jesus to apostles
George Washington to James Madison
Steve Jobs to Tim Cook
Queen Elizabeth to ?
You to ?
We are building the next Maestro-level leader cohort! Find out more at www.maestrolevelleaders.com