The Legacy of Lasting Leadership

Drake_bulldog In my dynamic world as a leadership coach and consultant, I often use the analogy of a sports team to help my clients understand their undoubtedly critical role as a leader of an organization.  There are many similarities.

Look, we are all here to fulfill our mission in life.  There is a winning formula to leaving a positive legacy of lasting leadership, whether you are the Coach of the Drake Bulldogs or CEO of Nationwide Insurance. The leader’s job is to set the tone; share the vision; and recruit and develop the talent to make it all happen. 

Setting the tone is creating an environment where teamwork is actually happening and it is not just” lip service”.  It is setting an expectation that everyone on the team or in the organization will operate from.  It is expecting and modeling interdependency instead of the egotistical “Hey. Look at me!” mentality.  In watching the Missouri Valley  Conference Champion Drake Bulldogs this season, I believe that one of Coach Keno Davis’ biggest contributions in creating a championship team was modeling for and insisting upon humility from his players.  When members of a team all feel that their contribution is just as important as the next guy’s, team work can’t help but to flourish in that environment.

Whether you are the coach of a champion sports team, or the Assistant Vice President of a business division, like the captain of a ship, a leader needs to be able to look to the horizon and imagine the possibilities for the group he or she has the privilege to lead.  That vision becomes the driving force for every decision that is made and every step that is taken by the team.  As we have seen with the Bulldog’s Coach Davis, the vision is clearly and consistently communicated to the team with confidence, humility and compassion. 

Creating a lasting legacy of leadership also means finding and selecting the right talent for the job. It means continually giving that selected talent opportunities to develop and grow.   In the book “Good to Great”, author James Collins talks about the importance of “getting the right people on the bus.”  A good sports coach or business leader wants to recruit champions- people committed to the vision. They want people who eat, sleep and breathe the vision…  People who will live the vision. I ask my coaching clients to take the bus analogy one step farther and to be sure that the “right people”- the champions on their team-  are not only on the bus, but are sitting in the right seats on the bus.  I suggest that they determine a team member’s natural abilities and place them in a position where their talents will make the most impact.  If you have someone who is great at coalescing people around a goal, don’t stick them in an office crunching numbers all day; instead make them the captain of your team so they can use their abilities.  Develop their leadership skills. 

Who knows, as we saw with Coach Davis taking over his father’s legacy,  when you are ready to retire the leaders you recruited and helped to develop just might follow in your footsteps someday.

photo by Drake University

No Responses to “The Legacy of Lasting Leadership”

  1. Pio Romero says:

    Very nice post!
    I also learned from that a successful company always begins with a vision, or ends due to a poor one or the utter lack of one. Its head honchos must be able to set a grand, sweeping (yet realistic) vision and communicate this to their staff. Otherwise, for want of such an overarching vision, the company will fall prey to the day-to-day foibles and failures of its staff and management, and will come to nothing sooner or later.

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