Responding to the Business Impacts of Leadership Loss
Most often, the attention regarding loss is focused on the individuals who are directly affected and his/her intimate relationships such as friends and family. This attention is certainly reasonable and justified. However, just like the old analogy of a pebble being dropped into a pond, the ripples created by the death of a person go far and wide. One place those ripples reach can be at the deceased's workplace. This section of the website reviews the various impacts on and possible responses by organizations that have had a key employee, or a key employee’s family member, suddenly die.
Intuitively, we can imagine that these death-related “shock” events are significant to an organization. Readily available examples, such as the fear that grips the high tech world and Apple investors whenever there is a question about Steve Jobs’ health, verify that intuitiveness. In 2007, three researchers attempted to measure just how important a CEO is to an organization. Their investigation resulted in a published research paper and an article in the September 5, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal. The study they conducted in Denmark showed, on average, that the profitability of a company decreased 20% over the two years after the death of a CEO's child and decreased about 15% after the death of a spouse. The profitability dropped even further if the CEO was the one who died. Notably, after the two year period, profitability returned to a level consistent with the pre-death period and the lost profitability was never recovered. This is a complete copy of the final journal article: Do CEOs Matter?
Effective handling of a death-related event in an organization requires maintaining a delicate balance between providing for the emotional/psychological needs of the employees, maintaining the on-going operations of the organization, and reassuring the outside world. While there are numerous psychologists, counselors, etc. who are able to help address the emotional needs of the employees and there are various consultants who can focus on the operational needs of the organization, there are very few counselors/consultants who have extensive experience and expertise in both worlds. My consulting services are the result of blending my corporate and counseling backgrounds to help companies respond to the business impacts of leadership grief.