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Eight Keys to Legacy Leadership

By Mike Jacoutot, Managing Partner

As leadership guru John C. Maxwell points out in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, a major goal of any great leader is “Legacy Leadership”—the highest level of leadership. Maxwell recognizes four levels of success as a leader:

  • Achievement: is recognized when someone is able to do great things for him/herself.

  • Success: comes when he empowers his followers to go great things with him.

  • Significance: is achieved when she develops leaders to do great things for her.

  • Legacy: is created when a leader puts his organization in position to do great things without him.

“Puts his organization in position to do great things without him.” How many “legacy leaders” can you name? Lee Iacocca—no. Jack Welch—no. Here are six that I believe, put their organizations in position to do great things without them:

  • Walt Disney—Disney

  • Henry Ford—Ford Motor Company

  • Ray Kroc—McDonalds Corporation

  • Milton S. Hershey—Hershey Chocolate Company

  • Sam Walton--Walmart

  • William C. Procter—Procter & Gamble

So, what does it take to be a Legacy Leader? Here are eight keys to Legacy Leadership. Whether you are leading a department, branch, region, division or company, answer the question at the end of each to determine how you stack up.

  1. People: one of the most obvious, yet the one most leaders take short cuts on. Hiring the right people with the right attitude, aptitude and values that are a strong cultural fit is one of the key foundations to Legacy Leadership. A Legacy Leader has a great hiring process and his people believe in that hiring process. A company is only as good as the people who represent it. Get this right, and your path to Legacy Leadership will be much easier. How good is your hiring process and onboarding process?

  2. Vision and Values must have meaning: in today’s day and age, financial goals alone simply won’t cut it. Employees are looking for a North Star and meaning to guide them in their everyday work. They must be inspired and understand how their role contributes to the greater good. The goal must be worked towards with a set of values that inspire the right thinking and actions. Do your vision, values and meaning inspire?

  3. Planning: Legacy Leaders are committed to the planning process. They teach the power of planning and making sure their planning documents are living breathing documents—not shelf ware. They understand that long-term success depends on clearly defined business planning that focuses both on short and long-term organizational goals. Legacy Leaders are committed to ensure that their people are well-versed in planning AND adjusting as conditions arise constantly to ensure long-term success. How good is your planning process and can your people execute on it without you?

  4. Diversity: we discussed some of this in last week’s blog. Price Pritchett emphasizes the need for diversity in building high-performance teams, “You have to question the wisdom of putting together a “cookie cutter” team of look-alikes, think –alikes and act-alikes. Differences add depth. Create strength. Broaden the group and bring balance.” You wouldn’t have an orchestra with only drummers would you? Our great country is an example for the power of diversity. How diverse is your organization?

  5. Process: development, communication and organizational accountability for the PROCESS is critical. This ensures the company focuses on the tasks that will achieve the highest level of performance. Best in class processes are the roadmap for a company’s success. Do you have an “optional” culture when it comes to process?

  6. Knowledge Sharing: shared diagnosis leads to mutual engagement. Creating an organizational culture that solves problems at the lowest levels is a key to success. Legacy Leaders insist upon formal and informal ways of sharing knowledge and best practices and instill a culture where everyone “reserves the right to get smarter.” Is your organization effective at knowledge sharing?

  7. Create a Culture of Learning, Trust and Mutual Accountability: There is no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage in terms of a product or service. A company’s only sustainable competitive advantage is their people and their ability to learn faster and change faster than the competition. The best companies put an emphasis on and build an infrastructure around learning and continuous improvement. These companies understand that learning, trust and mutual accountability are the cornerstones of a company culture. Legacy Leaders foster a culture of trust, respect and support of teammates. This causes mutual accountability to form and people are no longer afraid to fail but rather possess a strong desire to succeed because of the promise made to themselves and their co-workers to achieve company objectives. They know employee engagement is key to success. Do you regularly measure employee engagement?

  8. Recognition: the “psychological paycheck” is as important as the paycheck. Legacy Leaders understand that recognized behavior gets repeated and unrecognized behavior goes away. They defer adoration and credit to the team—understanding all the while that they deserve the recognition because they are the ones who executed. Do you consistently recognize performance?

Butler Street’s Executive Leadership Development program is modeled around the eight keys outlined in Legacy Leadership. We believe Leadership Development is the cornerstone to providing continuity in any business. Click on CONTACT and let’s start the conversation.

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