Yes. It’s true – happened this September. My business partner Alex Freytag & I were Halfway up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, when our guide left us. To be fair, his wife was having an emergency appendectomy. But still, it did cause us more than a little concern; we still had 6,000 vertical feet to go (the peak is at 19,341 feet).
There was an assistant guide but his English was poor and no one else spoke any English. How would we communicate in an emergency? How would we get to the top? Who would manage the porters?
We shouldn’t have worried. The ease at which the team adjusted to their new roles was amazing. They just stepped up and assumed their new roles in the Accountability Chart (yes, they had a very well defined Accountability Chart). Everyone knew what to do and who needed to step in to which role. An Accountability Chart and Succession Planning in Tanzania?
The assistant guide became the lead guide; the head porter became the assistant guide. Everyone just carried a little more weight – literally. It was clear they had planned for and discussed these types of situations. This made us think – how many of our clients are this prepared for a leadership team member to suddenly depart?
Have you discussed who will step up – even in the short term? Can your organization handle the abrupt departure of a key leader? Our take-a-way was this: once your Accountability Chart is in place, it is well worth your time to spend 30 minutes in your next Quarterly discussing who can step up in the case of a sudden departure.