execuBooks               wisdom. wherever.Subscribe to execubooks.com: e-summaries of books for business peopleA Leader’s ...
A Leader’s Legacy                                                            By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posnerwell you kept o...
A Leader’s Legacy                                                              By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posnerbetween unlov...
A Leader’s Legacy                                                          By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posnerclose enough to p...
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A Leader's Legacy


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By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

Are you on this planet to do something or are you here just for something to do?
That's a big question, but leadership is an important matter. The purpose of leaders is to mobilize others to serve a purpose. And if you're here to serve a purpose, the purpose comes first. You'll have to make sacrifices in service of that purpose.

In this execuBook, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner note that the most significant contributions leaders make aren?t to today's bottom line but to long-term development of individuals and institutions that adapt, prosper and grow.

This summary explores some of the key aspects of leadership that are needed for a lasting legacy. It will be of interest to corporate leaders and those who aspire to leadership roles.

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A Leader's Legacy

  1. 1. execuBooks wisdom. wherever.Subscribe to execubooks.com: e-summaries of books for business peopleA Leader’s LegacyBy Jim Kouzes and Barry PosnerPublished by Jossey-Bass, 2006ISBN 0787982962Introduction ing of others — and wants to take action to allevi-Are you on this planet to do something or are you ate this condition. Nearly every act of leadershiphere just for something to do? If you’re on this requires suffering — and often for the leader aplanet to do something, then what is it? What dif- choice between one’s personal success and safety,ference will you make? What will be your legacy? and the greater welfare of others. Nothing great Leadership isn’t solely about results. Success comes without costs.in leadership isn’t measured only in numbers. Leadership is hard work. At times we’ll suffer,Being a leader brings with it a responsibility to do and those we love and cherish will suffer, if only be-something of significance that makes families, cause of the tradeoffs we have to make betweencommunities, work organizations, nations, the en- our own career interests and those of the greatervironment and the world better places than they good. If you want to be a leader, you must be will-are today. ing to pay a price. By sacrificing, you demonstrate The purpose of leaders is to mobilize others to that you’re not in it for yourself. That sends theserve a purpose. And if you’re here to serve a pur- message, loud and clear, that you have the best in-pose, the purpose comes first. You’ll have to make terests of others at heart.sacrifices in service of that purpose. In this age of The most significant contributions leadersreality shows like Survivor, The Apprentice and make aren’t to today’s bottom line but to long-The Amazing Race, it might appear to some that term development of individuals and institutionssuccess is winner-take-all and at all costs. But that adapt, prosper and grow. People should neverthat’s not true. take on the job of leadership if they’re unwilling to When people talk about leadership, they often see beyond their own needs. If they do, they’ll ulti-use the word passion. And when we think of pas- mately fail.sion, we tend to think of emotions such as enthusi- We’ll all be remembered for something. Theasm, zeal, energy, exuberance and intensity. Well, question is, for what? What will others say aboutall those attributions might be true, but if you look you when you’re no longer around? Each of usup the word passion in any dictionary that includes lives on in the memories we create, in the systemsorigins you’ll see that it comes from the Latin word and practices we set in place (or don’t), and in thefor suffering. lives we touch. We guarantee that what people will Passion is suffering! A passionate person is say about you won’t be about what you’vesomeone who suffers and a compassionate person achieved for yourself, but what you’ve achieved foris someone who suffers with and shares the suffer- others. Not how big a campfire you built, but howBuy the Full Book!www.amazon.com www.bn.com www.chapters.cawww.execubooks.com © 2006 execuBooks inc.
  2. 2. A Leader’s Legacy By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posnerwell you kept others warm, how well you illuminated of us, whether we intend to or not, will become atthe night to make them feel safe, and how beautiful you some point a character in someone else’s story. We allleft the campsite for those who would come after you talk about people when they’re not around, and othersto build the next fire. will talk about us when we’re not around. The obvious question is: what will they say?The Best Leaders Are Teachers That should make each of us wonder about a fewThe best way to learn something is to teach it to things:someone else. No matter whether you’re a leader or a • What lessons am I teaching in every interaction Istudent, if you’re really serious about helping others have? The “moral of the story” I’m relating may belearn, you start to think, study and prepare from the obvious, but what else am I teaching? Am I evenmoment you’re asked to take on that role. In that aware of it?process, you become consumed by learning. You • What stories will others tell about me in the fu-know you’re on the line. You know you’re going to ture? What will others learn from those stories? What’shave to perform live in front of others, and you’d better the legacy being passed along? What’s the legacy Ihave your stuff down cold. want to pass along? One of the things that leaders do is to mentor and • What am I learning from others as I teach?teach. And when they’re teaching — at least, when Put that together with some lessons Jim Kouzesthey’re teaching with intensity — they’re learning. and Barry Posner discovered when analyzing theEach and every interaction teaching evaluations at theyou have with your asso- Leavey School of Businessciates can be framed as a A new feature topic every week at Santa Clara University,learning opportunity for where they work. Thethem — and for you. most highly rated teachers Take a performance are those who are mostappraisal, for example. You enthusiastic about theircan view it as a perfuncto- Leading thinking material.ry exercise in describing by thought leaders. That probably squaressomeone’s scores on cer- directly with your own ex-tain measures and compe- Join in at perience. When you’re in atencies, or you can look at class with someone who’s www.execuBooksBlog.comit as a mutual learning op- truly passionate about aportunity. These sessions subject, don’t you getbecome mutual learning opportunities when you ap- jazzed about it? Doesn’t that person really turn you onproach them as chances for people to teach you about to the subject? Don’t you wish all your teachers couldtheir strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, goals, disap- be that way?pointments, confusions, vulnerabilities and the like. The same applies to leaders. The best leaders areThey become mutual learning opportunities when you the most passionate about their work, their organiza-approach them as chances for you to teach your asso- tions and their disciplines. Their enthusiasm is conta-ciates about your own struggles with these issues and gious, and others catch that enthusiasm and display itwhat you’ve learned from your experience, and for in their own work. Those are the leaders we’ll tell thethem to teach you about the same. most positive stories about in the future. Those are the It transforms the experience from a monologue to a teachers who continue to make a difference long afterdialogue. It also elevates your relationships from boss- we, and they, have moved on.subordinate to mentor-protégé. But there’s a second lesson to keep in mind about We All Need Loving Criticsthis element of teaching and mentoring: our teachers The late John Gardner, leadership scholar and presi-continue to teach as we go on to tell their stories. Each dential advisor, once remarked, “Pity the leader caughtwww.execubooks.com 2
  3. 3. A Leader’s Legacy By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posnerbetween unloving critics and uncritical lovers.” That at a higher level or whether they’ve sent motivationphrase should be put on a poster to hang over every heading south.leader’s desk — or a screen saver on every leader’s All leaders want to have a positive impact on per-computer — and it should be read and contemplated formance. It’s part of their legacy. The only way theyseveral times a day. can know if they’re having the desired impact is to get None of us likes to hear the constant screeching of regular feedback on how they’re doing. Leaders needharpies who have only foul things to say. We close our more loving critics.ears to constant complainers who are predictable in The reason that leaders aren’t eager to ask fortheir whining. At the same time, we never benefit from, feedback is that they’re afraid of feeling exposed — ex-nor truly believe, the syco- posed as not being per-phants whose flattery is fect, as not knowingobviously aimed at gainingfavor. To stay honest with simple smart everything, as not being as good at leadership as theyourselves, what we really should be, as not being upneed are “loving critics” — to the task. But if you’re apeople who care deeply leader, you’re already ex-enough about us to give posed. You’re effectivelyus honest feedback about dancing naked on thehow we’re doing. table, so there’s no use The higher up you go pretending you’re wearingon the corporate ladder, clothes.the less likely it is that The better strategy isleaders will ask for feed- to accept the importanceback about their perform- See page 4 for details of seeking feedback aboutance. Leaders want to our performance. Learningknow how others are doing, but rarely do they ask how to be a better leader requires great self-awareness andthey’re doing themselves. Senior executives are quite it requires making ourselves vulnerable. Make sure youhappy to prescribe 360-degree feedback for others — have processes for getting regular feedback.it’s the rage these days. But when it comes to gettingfeedback, it’s not for them. And if they’re getting it, Leaders Should Want to Be Likedthat’s probably because an outside consultant or Lasting success depends on whether we like our lead-coach told them they should be getting it, not because ers. It’s only logical, then, that all leaders should like tothey took the initiative to ask. be liked. But leaders often say, “I don’t care if people Think about this for a moment. From a behavioral like me. I just want them to respect me.” Get real! Thatperspective, credibility, which is at the foundation of statement is utter nonsense — contrary to everythingleadership, is about doing what you say you’ll do. But we know about effective leadership.how can you do what you say if you don’t know how Think about it for a moment. Is this a binaryyou’re doing? If you never ask for feedback on your be- choice? Are we restricted to either liking or respectinghavior and on how well your behavior affects how oth- someone? Can’t we have both? Can’t we both like anders are doing, how can you really expect to align your respect a person?words and actions over the long haul? The leaders people want to follow are the ones for There’s solid evidence that the best leaders are whom they have genuine affection. Love is not toohighly attuned to what’s going on inside themselves as strong a word to use for how the best leaders feelthey’re leading and to what’s going on in others. about their constituents and how their constituents feelThey’re very self-aware and they’re very socially about them. If you can’t have both liking and respect,aware. They can tell in short order whether they’ve then you should choose liking over respect.done something that has enabled someone to perform Of course, some leaders worry that if they getwww.execubooks.com 3
  4. 4. A Leader’s Legacy By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posnerclose enough to people for them to like the leader, Related Readingthen it will be tough doing the difficult parts of the Leading at a Higher Level: Blanchard on Leadershipleadership job — things like firing people, reprimand- and Creating High Performing Organizations, by Kening them for poor performance or holding them ac- Blanchard, Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2006, ISBNcountable for living up to high standards. A tough 0132347725.truth about leading, however — and one that doesn’tget talked about enough — is that sometimes you Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing thehurt others and sometimes you get hurt. You can’t hit Right Thing, by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr., Harvardthe delete key and eliminate those times from your Business School Press, 2002, ISBN 1578514878.job. You can’t delegate them to others. They comewith the territory. The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and That truth should not deter us from wanting to be Achieve Your Life’s Dreams, by Tim Sanders, Crownliked. Being motivated to have others like us will result Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1400080495.in more empowering actions on our part than justwanting to be respected. Being motivated to want oth-ers to like us will make us more concerned about them execuGrow Learning Suitethan we are about ourselves. A simple, smart enterprise-wide learning solution, And here’s a final piece of advice. If you have peo- execuGrow Learning Suite (www.execugo.com/execuGo2/ple working for you in leadership roles who truly don’t suite.cfm) enables 100% of an organization’s employeescare if other people don’t like them, then fire them. to quickly learn and apply the world’s best businessThey may not like you, but everyone else will. concepts at an unbeatable return on investment. execuGrow Learning Suite combines two ofConclusion execuGo Media’s most popular product lines —Legacies aren’t the result of wishful thinking. They’re execuBooks business book summaries andthe result of determined doing. The legacy you leave is execuKits turnkey workshop toolkits — with a new col-the life you lead. We leave our legacies daily. e lection of innovative inspirational tools called execuClips. It enables all employees to build competi-ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Jim Kouzes is an executive fellow tive advantage by equipping each other with a world-at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at class business education easily and effectively rightthe Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara Univer- where they work.sity. Barry Posner is dean of the Leavey School of Contact us for more information at clientcare@Business. execugo.com or 1-866-888-1161.www.execubooks.com 4