What will your leadership legacy be?
Some will argue that the only real leadership legacy is the results you achieve.
But are results all that matter? Too many leaders today get caught up in the game and pursue results at all costs, or look the other way when results are achieved illegally or unethically. How results are achieved matters greatly.
Others may argue that the leader’s vision is what counts most. Yes, vision is critical, but vision without execution is futile.
What about strategy? Yes, strategy is important too, but in today’s world, how many strategies survive more than just a few years before becoming obsolete?
A strong argument can be made that the legacy of leadership is the leadership team one leaves behind: the quality, character, and competencies of the team. Here we are getting closer to the ultimate legacy of leadership.
How will that leadership team behave when the pressure is on? Will they revert to results-at-any-cost behavior? Will they wimp out when the stakes are the highest? Perhaps they will revert to different behaviors after you are gone?
We submit that the most important legacy of your leadership is the organizational culture you build with your colleagues: the culture you initiate, develop, reinforce, and nurture. Whatever your role, the culture you leave behind is your greatest leadership legacy.
Culture in its essence is “how we do things here.” It is a powerful force that drives how people behave. It tells them what’s acceptable here and what’s not. It indicates what people can do when the boss is not around.
Some organizations have a toxic culture, with character assassinations, backbiting, and dog-eat-dog behavior. Others have what we call a “high-performance culture of character,” in which culture stewards actively step outside their functional roles to protect and enhance the organizational culture. Such a culture is healthy, self-reinforcing, and self-regulating. It elicits optimal behaviors from people with character and competence, who then attract others with character and competence, and who then collectively set visions and strategies that they execute with astonishing commitment. Over time, they build an organization that is excellent, ethical, and enduring—the hallmark of “triple crown leadership.”
Are you creating a high-performance culture of character?
Perhaps you should put culture on the agenda of your staff meetings until you have the one you desire?
Bob and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards.