One of the most important roles a leader plays is to empower the future of his or her organization. In fact, in the long run, this may be the most important marker of truly great leadership.
Here’s what I mean…
One of the roles of a successful leader is to envision the future for the organization – and to steer the organization into that future. The most important part of that future, however, is the moment the leader steps aside and hands the organization over to new leadership.
I believe this moment tests the true character of the leader and the quality of his or her leadership. Is the organization stronger and healthier after he or she moves on? Or is it weaker, struggling to make it, losing momentum, and seeming to have lost its way?
Leaders must see themselves as temporary stewards of a trust. No leader is permanent. This applies to anyone in leadership, including… and especially… the founder of an organization. So then, what kind of organization will you leave to those in the future? Will you leave a stronger, more robust organization that is able to soar; or a weaker, less-effective one that struggles?
As a leader, you must not only be thinking strategically about the success of the current operation, but also how to ensure the organization is positioned for even greater success when you depart.
One key is building and investing in a leadership team that is able to take the organization beyond your capabilities. To have talent greater than yourself is not a threat but an asset!
The greatest of leaders pour themselves into the emerging leaders of their organization to help ensure the future prosperity of the enterprise. Unfortunately, most leaders are too short-sighted, with their perspective stuck on the here-and-now, or even worse, on themselves.
When you step down from your role as a leader, here are a few things that will tell you whether you have been truly successful:
• The right players are in place to take the organization forward to even greater success
• They have a clear plan and direction, with the skill sets to effectively execute that plan
• They are fully prepared for this transition
• They have the capability to adapt and change with the dynamics of their industry/business
• They are passionate evangelists and protectors of the mission, vision, and brand of your organization
Your greatest legacy as a leader is not what you did, but what you put into motion that makes possible the future success of your organization. If you have that perspective, you will enable the present success of your enterprise with informed decisions that will empower the future.
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