I don’t think many people would ever Google the title of this blog post. Or lump a football coach and a CEO in the same category. But as a famously (frustrated) Redskins fan and Apple aficionado it dawned on me watching Joe Gibbs retire today that there will come a day when Steve will also leave the organization he personally made great.
Whenever that happens a bit of the company, the company’s personality, even part of the company’s soul leaves with the person – and they are forever inextricably tied together. Apple is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is Apple. Joe Gibbs is the Washington Redskins.
If the Redskins were a public corporation their stock would sink in tomorrow’s trading. Redskins fans everywhere wring their hands tonight thinking first about Sean Taylor and now this. How will the organization recover? What does the future hold? Will we ever see another Superbowl?
And while most companies teach you to realize that no one is irreplaceable, in a very real sense that’s not the whole truth. With true leaders, like Steve and Joe, people follow. People work harder, give more of themselves, aim higher. And when those leaders are gone their followers feel lost, unsure of themselves, unmotivated. But over time those disciples take lessons learned, apply them for themselves – sometimes by themselves – and finally teach them to others. That’s the legacy of a coach – to make those around them better and move the entire team to greatness. That’s what Steve did for Apple and Joe did for the Redskins.