What’s Your Legacy?

12.07.12 | Posted in UnCommon Leadership

Recently, I spoke on this topic. Actually, I led a conversation as the group we were invited to speak to was comprised of very successful people. We determined that rather than talk “at” them we would lead a discussion and see what others thought of this topic. The feedback was incredible and highly interactive. Here are a few of the areas we discussed:

1) This group believed, like us, that there is a leadership vacuum. From our politicians, to our business leaders, to our sports heroes there is a derth of people that we could call “uncommon” leaders. And, what do we mean by uncommon? Another word would be remarkable.  Leaders who stand out because of their vision, their investment in people and their integrity. The economic downturn provided an excuse for corporations to mistreat employees. Especially those companies that are publicly traded. We all cited examples of companies that have made profits more important than people and how the Gallup surveys continue to show the high number of employees who are “disengaged” (currently about 54%). These employees have quit but they haven’t left.

2) We also discussed the concept that leadership really is about relationships; building and investing in those that you’ve asked to carry the torch for you and your company. Matthew Kelly, the author of Dream Manager, has the concept that if you are asking employees to help you build your dream why aren’t you finding out how you can help your employees fulfill their dreams? Companies and leaders that have taken Kelly’s idea and implemented them have seen incredible results in creating an environment where employees are not only engaged but thriving!

3) What’s your legacy? – great discussion about this idea of  what it means to leave a legacy of uncommon leadership. It really is a simple concept; are the people that were entrusted to you better off for the relationship? If it’s that simple then why don’t more leaders check their emotional, spiritual and moral compasses to make sure the legacy they are leaving is one of a positive, lasting, life changing experience? I think the answer is simple too; most people are here to serve themselves rather than being servant leaders. Ken Blanchard has written extensively about servant leadership. I say this as modestly and humbly as I can.  When I was entrusted to run a division of 1200 employees we had that attitude; how can we serve them? I am proud of the fact that the gentlemen who cleaned our building was comfortable coming in my office at night and sitting down and talking to me. He also knew what our vision was. If you had asked him about our vision statement he knew it! Our entire leadership team was proud of the fact that every employee knew why they did their jobs and why they mattered. Was that easy? No, and that is also one of the issues with leaders. It takes effort and commitment to care about every employee.

What kind of leader are you; self serving or serving others? That one change in your focus can produce amazing results. It’s actually a paradox that most corporate CEO’s miss. The focus is so much on profits they forget the people. If they would flip the switch, make people the number one focus the profits will follow.

This is the work that I am blessed to do; help others invest in themselves to become the best leader they can be so they can invest in others.

Onward & Upward!

Ed Chaffin

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One Response to “What’s Your Legacy?”

  1. Jag says:

    Very well said, it is an eye opening to do right things that matters most and in a right way to reach the goal and do that together. No point in climbing to the top and realize later that you are lonely out there and no one to share and no one is proud of you, but yourself.

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