Organizational Legacy—Leaving Footprints (638 words)
The organizational legacy question that I’d like to pose to you, the corporate executive, “Why are you really at your job; is it really the money—really—or might there be a deeper purpose?”
Money is good and power is alluring, however your legacy is what really matters. Sometimes upper level executives get so wrapped up in the now that they forget about the later. Good chance you already have all the money you need, so why stick around?
Your motivators might be:
- Desire to turn the organization over to family.
- Desire to be remembered as a conqueror, inspiring leader, builder of something bigger than your self, or various other reasons.
- Enjoy being engaged in the “game.”
- Desire to be a mentor.
- Believe they couldn’t run the company without you.
- Just because.
Rule with an Iron Fist
If you enjoy being the conqueror, then perhaps you also enjoy being in control. While being in control is truly an opiate, like other dependencies, the dependent person degrades over time. In a corporate environment this generally leads to organizational failure or the leader becoming a Lord of Lesser Corners—thereby diminishing the Lord’s legacy.
The organizational downside of this paradigm is twofold; first that of encouraging the really great talent to find greener pastures elsewhere and handicapping the talent that does stay. A controlling personality tends to find it difficult to truly mentor, coach, and nurture arising talent.
The reason for this is either the misguided belief that nobody else can do it as well or the paranoia of letting go of control. Either way, the result is always a dysfunctional organization.
What’s a Conqueror to Do?
My first counsel to an iron-fisted executive is, “Protect your legacy!” You have spent years building this incredible organization; now protect it from the forces that are intent on tearing it down. Unknowingly, you could be one of those forces. Sam Walton went back to take control of WalMart, not because he needed the money, but rather to protect his child. Michael Dell recently did the same thing.
How do you want to be remembered; as the fool that built it and then watched it being ripped apart? Or would you rather be remembered as the conquering hero that built it and trained the future generations to make it even greater?
But I’m Old and Tired
A conquering hero is never old and tired; they have simply misplaced their passion. You have been so distracted with the static of micromanaging an organization. Stop playing only defense and get back to your aggressive game of building—today, it is building your organizational leaders of tomorrow.
Reconnect to your early passion for building something greater than yourself. Understand that the good old days are gone; however the good old days were nothing more than the times in which you had the greatest passion for building. Kids today are the same as they were when you were young. Sure, they have kilos of body hardware emerging from all parts of their body, but what about your long hair in a world of crew cuts? Okay, their bodies are indelibly marked with various pictures and slogans, but what about your tie-dyes and bell-bottoms?
Now is not the time to cocoon and reminisce but rather the time for renaissance. If you look at your organization through the window of your legacy, you will plug into the juice necessary for you to help your upcoming levels of executives to carry on your vision. Understand that they will add to your vision to make it their own. It is this process of up and coming leaders adding to the overlying vision that allows them the have the emotional ownership that will deliver to them the same passion you had in your younger years.