Legacy of Leadership

The business owner I worked for early in my career lived leadership. He started each new-employee orientation by stating, “You should do two things every day. 1. Have a positive impact on someone’s life. 2. Have fun. And if you’re not having fun, put a plan in place to have more fun.” His legacy of leadership permeated the entire organization.

He showed up to every monthly orientation meeting for the nine years I was there and handed out his cell phone number to all new hires. He encouraged them to call at any time if they had a question, concern, or suggestion. He’d always say, “I didn’t hire you to sell lumber or drive a truck or work in the office. We can teach you to do those things. I hired you for your brains. I want you to use them. Speak up. Make us better. Share your ideas.”

Be a leader who leaves behind a true legacy of leadership.

Employees would often leave orientation, saying to me, “I’ve worked for several companies and have never met the CEO before. I definitely never had his personal number.” And sometimes grown men would have tears in their eyes as they told me, “No one has ever asked me to think. They’ve just told me when to show up and what to do.” It turned out that one of our truck drivers had a hobby called, building websites, and this company became one of the first in the industry to have a website thanks to his expertise. (This was the early nineties.)

When an employee was struggling, he’d encourage his management team to get to know that employee, remove obstacles, and, if that didn’t work, try another position that might be a better fit. When he made a mistake, he apologized. When he was wrong, he admitted it. When employees exceeded expectations, he rewarded them generously. When yard workers complained of working in the dark, he added lights. He understood people and had over 800 of them loyal to him and his company.

I believe in loyalty, but it’s not automatic. It’s also not difficult. Look at the true leadership examples above and ask yourself, “Could I leave a legacy of leadership?”