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Your Legacy


J. D. Pendry


A leader is best when people barely know he exists Ė not so good when people obey and acclaim him.Worse when they despise him.But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done Ė his aim fulfilled, they will say: ďWe did it ourselves.Ē Ė Lao-Tzu


Did you ever give any thought to what you leave behind when you move out to your next assignment?What impact did you have on the mission, the unit and the people?When they talk about you or your leadership technique, what will they say?Did you leave something good or bad, or did it make any difference if you were there or not?When you finally leave this planet, whether planted into the ground or tossed into a river in Georgia because the crematorium guy forgot how to turn on the furnace, what will they say about you?


Most of us never give a thought to what others might think as long as we succeed personally and professionally.If we did give thought to what we leave behind, what we would want others to think of us or what we would like to have them say of our accomplishments, it just may make a difference in how we lead.Use the eulogy test.Pretend that you just dropped over dead and by some supernatural means you are able to watch your brutally honest best friend or best enemy deliver your eulogy.Whatís he going to say about you?I he going to stand up there and talk about how great you were as a person and leader, how you made it better where you were, or his he going to say good riddance and proceed to lead the audience in a chorus of Nah Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey Hey, Good-bye?


For the first time in over a quarter of a century, Iím not in a leadership position.Iím just one of the grunts.A minion, slugging it out daily in the trenches while dealing with the chuckle headed decisions of the leadership.Itís quite enlightening let me tell you.Itís been more than once, that Iíve had a conversation with my trench-mates about the effectiveness or lack of it concerning our bosses.How they often seem out of touch regarding the work we actually do each day.†† An event brought all of this to the forefront for me the other day.When one of our bosses announced his pending retirement there was literally dancing in the streets along with a few high fives and a verse or two of Nah Nah Nah Nah.The reaction of my peers, which I shared, caused me to do a little soul searching, some reflection, and a eulogy test of my own.It also caused me to look at this leaderís performance to try to figure out why the minions feel as they do.Hereís what I can share with you from that evaluation:



Yep, my tour in the trenches has been enlightening.Itís reinforced for me some valuable leadership principles.The most important of which is if you hope to accomplish the mission, you must take care of the people and that the most important person or people in organizations are not necessarily the bosses.


Copyright © 2002, James D. Pendry, All Rights Reserved