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Can a founder/ CEO’s absence affects Organizational Sustainability?

Welcome to another episode of Difficult Conversation Africa. It has been ages. We plead for the patience of our community members as videos of the previous episodes are yet to be uploaded. Just some underground restructuring and logistic going on. We assure all the videos will be uploaded on our site and social platforms soon.

Today’s episode is focused on the second focal point of this project: Corporate difficult conversation. In this episode the focus of our difficult conversation  is ‘Can an organization remain vibrant or continues to thrive after a prolonged absence of its founder or Chief Executive Officer? This is particularly so where getting an organization past the twenty years of its existence is a mirage for founders who are on ground not to talk of an absentee CEO.

Corporate sustainability is a big issue today. Research had proven many organizations will die before their fifth birthdays.  Corporate sustainability is about long term and efficient strategies of an organization’s ability to ‘create sustainable, shareholder, employee, consumer, and societal value by pursuing responsible environmental, social, and economic (or governance) goals’’ If an organization must do this effectively, leaders has a major role to play in setting the tone

A cursory observation of many African Organizations will show organizations without physical presence of their CEOs are practically impossible.  In many instances, many organizations even with their CEOs on ground died a natural death within five years of their operations.

There are many theories and myths which support   the fact that a vision may die as quickly as soon as the founder exits because many followers do not understand the real drivers behind the vision.

A Nigerian adage also confirms this ‘Eni ti o ni oko ni oko n fe’’. Which literally means ‘a flourishing farm requires active presence of its owner’. People believe without the physical presence of the farm (idea, business etc) owner, the demise of such idea is very imminent.

Today Our case study is a focus on a rare African and to be precise Nigerian leader, Dr Sam Adeyemi, the senior pastor of about 40.000 membership church (Daystar) with about 12,000 work force as well as the CEO of Sam Adeyemi Global Leadership Consulting had demonstrated the possibility of such rare scenario.

Dr Sam Adeyemi had been away from Daystar Christian Church, albeit physical presence, for three solid years and Daystar organizations still remain a viable entity. Let us note, Dr Sam Adeyemi’s absence was not planned but circumstance beyond his control, which is not borne  out of sickness or death . has been the reason

On his return to Nigeria after 3 years sojourning in the USA and while holding his first meeting with the organization’s workforce on Saturday January 14, 2023, Dr Adeyemi thanked profusely every member of the team and explained some of the fundamentals that can ensure corporate sustainability even if the founder is not physically present for a long while. Here are some of them:

Have a solid foundation:

Every building, especially skyscraper, will stand firm for a long while despite the storm or tornado if the foundation had been planned to accommodate or withstand all forms of weather. To do this well, a good knowledge of the environment, typography of the land (industry you are  in) and other factors necessary must first be studied and embraced.

According to Dr Sam Adeyemi, when the Church started in 1995, it had a planned but by 1999, he and his team discovered if Daystar must exist for a long while, the current foundation then must give way to something that could accommodate a better structure. The foundation the team laid in 1999 for Daystar accommodated and made allowance for a building that is tough and could withstand storms.

Build systems as early as possible:

The reason many organizations collapse as soon as the founder is away for short while is because everything is built around the founder. Every other team member is seen as outsider who is not invited into the kitchen cabinet.

Where a semblance of this (invitation into inner chamber) exists, the controlling and domineering attitude of the founder or extended family members send wrong signal to the team.  The foundational structure of Daystar from 1999 has inbuilt and tested systems which to a certain degree can assure corporate sustainability

Use Media and technology:

With the introduction of technology, especially online media,  and effect of post COVID-19 era, everyone should learn a lesson or two. Being physically present as founder, as good as that may seem has no above board advantage over long distance communication. With right use of media, organization can still thrive.

Dr Adeyemi shared with everyone, even if he was not physically present, he did not miss meetings, strategic and leadership chats sessions that can make the work done. Instructions are still passed and everyone gives weekly or monthly report on assignments given. So never under estimate the power of getting work done irrespective through technology and media.

Build people for the future you saw as a leader.

While it is true human resource is one of the biggest headaches of a successful organization, people still remains best asset. It all depends on how the organization recruits and treats its employees. Without optimistic and highly committed employees, the presence of the founder will frustrate everyone.

Dr Adeyemi talked about the kind of employees and works force he had been privileged to raise, and according to him by the privilege of God, are people who understood the vision and are loyal to the core. This may look like an impossible task but it is doable. A secret that may help here is how the leader treats and talks to the team.

Continually cast the vision before the team

Whether away or present, a founder who refuses to continually casts the vision through communication and action will be surprised how short –lived the vision can be.

Thank you and look out for the next episode of difficult conversation Africa.

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  • Dotun JegedeJanuary 16, 2023

    Profound, Yinka.

    • Yinka OlaitoJanuary 16, 2023

      Thank you, we appreciate the feedback


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