Staying Power. This is what separates great leaders from all others. The influence of a great leader will last well beyond their presence in any organization. You can see their influence carried on and carried out in all areas of the organization and through the members of each team. Their leadership inspired a culture- not just a set of behaviors that were displayed when the leader was present. How is this achieved? How does a leader know whether or not what they are building will have that kind of staying power? Here is a quick checklist you can use to determine whether or not you are building an organizational legacy or an ego trip.
Is your connection list larger than your to-do list?
If you have more things to do than you have people that you can empower to do those things, you are leaning toward an ego trip. To fix this, intentionally find others that you can involve in your day-to-day tasks to help spread your wealth of knowledge around. This strengthens the organization by eliminating a single point of failure in the event something unforeseen were to take you out of your normal routine.
Do you regularly share key decisions, victories, and publicity with other team members?
Are you a project hog? I know it feels good to be in charge of a lot of things. It’s great that you know how to do so much. That said, it’s not great if you’re the only rock star in your organization. Rather than striving to be the famous point guard, strive to be on the championship team. Pass the ball and give others a chance to score and get the game-winning interview.
Out of every 10 issues that arise in your organization, how many require your knowledge to solve?
Piggy-backing off of the last item, if you are the only one with the answers, you are teaching your team that they don’t need to learn for themselves. It might be easier to just do it yourself now, but if you are seriously concerned about creating legacy, you need to be seriously concerned about truly empowering those on your team to win without you. Period.
How often do you disconnect from the organization for personal growth and/or rest?
Are you facing burnout because your team can’t do it without you? This is not sustainable for you or them. Train, equip, and release your team to do great things. It’s amazing what innovation might come after you get some real rest.
Which is more important to you: your preference or their participation?
If it’s “my way or the highway”, prepare to fall into obscurity. Sure- you want to lead with vision, but as long as the vision is being accomplished, there likely isn’t any need for draconian measures because your team chooses a different method. An insistence on your way, right away, every time feeds your ego more than it does organizational success.
Are you intentionally grooming successors for your role in the event of your extended absence?
This is crucial. Sick things are contagious. Healthy things take intentional effort. If you are not intentionally building a line of potential successors, you are intentionally damaging your organization. If you are serious about building organizational legacy, you must build a model of reproducing other leaders into the very DNA of your organization’s culture. It will not happen by accident.
How did you do? Have work to do? If so, the great news is that it’s never too late to start building your legacy. I once heard it said that you don’t leave a legacy, you live a legacy. So make the choice to live a legacy today.
If your team cannot last without you, you aren’t building your team. You are only building an ego trip.
Dr. Zebulan Hundley is an author, speaker, leadership coach, and the host of the podcast, Life-Giving Leadership with Dr. Zeb. With a doctorate in Church Leadership, Dr. Zeb specializes in non-profit leadership environments where volunteers comprise a majority of the workforce. His experience comes not only from the non-profit sector, but also from his time in for-profit corporations and in the U.S. Army. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor at Hope Church in Warner Robins, GA and has recently released his book, Learning the Art of Effective Leadership. Follow him on Facebook & Instagram @zebulanhundleyauthor