Do You Really Think The Company Will Fall Apart When You Leave?

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Do You Really Think The Company Will Fall Apart When You Leave?


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February 19, 2015

When you become an integral part of a company and its growth, you can convince yourself that there is no way the company can run without you.  You may be a senior vice president for a large company running an elite sales force, a design engineer working on an important product, or even the CEO at the helm of the entire operation.  No matter how much you want to convince yourself and tell your friends that the company is surely going to fall apart without you, it just may be that you have the facts all wrong.  Companies often have a backbone much larger than we’d like to give them credit, and before your derriere hits the door you’ll merely be a distant name from the past.

Of all the behemoths of companies out there, arguably Apple could be the 800 pound gorilla.   When Steve Jobs passed away on October 5th, 2011, many were convinced that Apple had no chance to move on to a bigger, better, and brighter future without Steve.   Less than four years later, the stock price has more than doubled and it recently posted the highest level of profit of all-time.   Here are four reasons why you need to think twice about the next time you go bragging that the company will become a house of cards when you exit stage left.

  1. They have systems-  This is especially true for large companies.   The larger they get, the more systematized they become.  Even though you might be a great sales leader or an innovator, the truth is that the company can find talent that can plug and play into their system to keep the machine moving along just fine when you are gone.   Often in large companies, leaders can only myopically see their division or unit, and don’t fully take into consideration the breadth and depth of the organization as a whole.
  2. They are resilient- Many small businesses start on the back of one person, the owner.   Once a small business gets up to 10 to 20 employees, some larger manager and operations roles begin to arise within the corporation.   It may even be true that there become one or two ‘key’ employees within the business.  Those ‘key’ employees sometimes believe that the owner doesn’t really know what’s going on anymore and the company would be crushed without them.  What those people fail to realize is that owners have done just about every job in the company and could do it again if their back was against the wall.   I’ve personally seen owners rebound even when key people or key accounts walk out the door.
  3. There’s plenty of talent out there-  Have you ever started to think to yourself that no person in the company could do your job as good as you can today?  While this may be true today, there are talented individuals in your organization that could jump into your role and do it perhaps 75% as good as you can today.  With a little bit of time and training, you would be surprised to see how new people could fill into your role and the company will still have excellent success.   Look how the best sports organizations can change personnel and still win because of the way they run the organizations.
  4. You may been slowing down growth- Sometimes, when talented people leave an organization it can actually help the company.  The reason is that some talented people are coachable, while others are extremely talented but not all that coachable.  Consequently, the people underneath you may have been tired of you telling them how much management or the owner doesn’t know about the industry.  The people you were leading may have actually suffered from your own arrogance thinking that you were the foundation holding up the company.

I was on a plane ride home a few weeks ago when I heard someone behind me having a conversation about how they were going to leave their company and the owner just "didn’t see it coming".   It made me chuckle because we all think that when we move on from our jobs that the organizations we leave behind us are surely going to stumble and fall apart. Note to self:  Apple stock has doubled in the past four years and you aren’t as good as Steve Jobs!

Written by: Ted Jenkin
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