Preparing Your Successor
By David R. Fox, CRA, FAHRA
I wrote about legacy back in February and alluded to another key step for leaders to consider: who will succeed the legacy you leave behind? Part of what I stated in that article needs careful consideration, and so I choose to repeat a brief excerpt: “a true leader should quietly think about both succession planning and eventual legacy of his or her leadership role. I am doing more of these types of reflective things today; more than in years past (thank you Gordon Ah Tye).”
What I didn’t know when I wrote that article on the significance of leadership and legacy was the impact of my words for an entirely different reason. That reason is our friend Ed Yoder, the most recent past president of AHRA. After succeeding Ed, leading AHRA as the next president felt natural for me. As I sat in the wings as president-elect awaiting ‘my turn,’ I marveled at his candor and sharp mind and how he handled the business of the association, conducting board meetings with ease and managing issues almost daily. Not many of you realize the time, sacrifice, and challenges of leading a volunteer association such as ours, but Ed sure does. Ed’s leadership has always been strong and gifted in many ways. This was never more apparent to me than when I tried to write my first couple of articles and textbook chapters for AHRA. Ed has a way of using his working experience to relay to us in his writing a better way for managing, leading, and simply getting the job done right the first time. Writing for me was, and still is, a struggle and as I marveled at how easily this was accomplished by Ed, he would help me to improve. Through the years he has ‘rocked’ us all with outstanding articles, some practical and others more experience or knowledge based. So when I recently learned the unexpected news that Ed Yoder was sick, and an important battle was already underway with cancer, I was rocked and simply wasn’t sure what to say or how to support my friend. Perhaps this bit of news is brand new to you and you’re feeling the same. So let me try to help you to better understand how to help Ed.
Cancer is at once personal and communal; it has invaded the life of my friend (perhaps yours too), Ed Yoder. Cancer is a disease living in the sufferer’s body, but the experience of illness is shared, often intimately, by our family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Many people from all across the globe have asked “What can I do to help?” It has been a comforting reminder of how selfless people can be and just how special and far reaching our network of over 5,000 AHRA friends truly is. But while most of Ed’s friends and family would help him in a heartbeat, knowing how to help can be a daunting, even paralyzing challenge. Some very helpful friends of Ed’s (Carmen Harris Taylor and Lindsey Renner) have established a GoFundMe account to help defray some of the financial burden and strain that a long journey of cancer care sometimes requires.
Sending prayers is another sincere, often reflexive, response people have when they find out a friend has cancer. Ed is supported by his wonderful wife, Rita, as she has leapt into action as Ed’s CCO (chief caregiving officer) as well as CPW (chief prayer warrior), in addition to his five children and many close friends. Ed shared with me that as the news of his diagnosis spread, many friends, acquaintances, and even some strangers formed a loving support network, and prayers are certainly needed and appreciated by Ed and his family.
Over the past few months, through some occasional hospitalizations and at least six rounds of chemotherapy, and now most recently some radiation therapy, Ed and I have sustained a running dialogue about some AHRA work, but mostly about family and what truly matters. We have also discussed what to share and when to share it with our AHRA colleagues. The AHRA Board of Directors met this past week at a wonderful Spring Conference in Orlando, FL (more on that next time), and so I informed the board of Ed’s current situation (with Ed’s permission, of course), and we agreed the time is now.
So now you also know. Ed has a very difficult journey ahead of him, and I have hope and believe that with prayer and the valued support of friends such as the AHRA, we can help support our friend and his sweet family through the challenges ahead. Your prayers and support in any denomination are welcomed. That GoFundMe account I mentioned earlier can be found right here: http://www.gofundme.com/edyoder.
Leadership matters, but much more importantly, so do friends like Ed.
David R. Fox, CRA, FAHRA is president of the 2014-2015 AHRA Board of Directors. He is the president of Saint Vincent Health-North Hospital in Sherwood, AR and can be reached at Dfox@stvincenthealth.com.