There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This is certainly a truism in leadership.
I know it takes guts and ambition to be a leader—to be the one out in front, the one taking the shots and calling the shots. But what differentiates a legacy leader—a leader of influence—from someone who is just a leader in title only?
Legacy leaders seek to bring people together to sustainably go far. Anyone can go alone.
Two self-obsessed, CEO Disease driven roadblocks, that will keep you from going far as a leader are: 1) Being a publicity hound 2) Resisting succession planning.
Are you a publicity hound? - In your leadership role, do you get your kicks from certain publicity stunts like testifying before legislative bodies? Do you go out of your way to devise public appearances for yourself instead of empowering the people you lead to talk about what you all are accomplishing together? Do you love being on boards for the sake of being on boards? Do you volunteer for certain causes because some causes get more publicity than others?
Being on boards isn’t bad. Testifying isn’t bad. Volunteering for a cause you care about certainly isn’t bad. All of these activities are perfectly fine, and even good things to do, if you can look yourself in the mirror and answer this question with conviction: “why am I doing this?”
If the answer is because you love the publicity, you have CEO Disease and it will prevent you from going far.
Do you resist succession planning? - When you assume a new leadership role the best thing you can do, to ensure you go far, is to immediately start looking for the people whom you can empower to replace you.
The human tendency toward CEO Disease, the egoism deep down in each of us, might secretly want to see things fall apart after we leave a leadership position. Then we think we can say, see I held this whole thing together. I put us on a growth path. I charted the course for success. I did all these amazing things and just look what happened after I left.
When in reality, if things fall apart after you, its likely because you didn’t take up the mantle of legacy leadership, and empower people to continue on the path of success.
Do you revel in the accolades or are you trying to expand the leadership?
Do you makes excuses not to groom someone to take your place? Do things screech to a halt when you aren’t available? And when it really is time for you to move on from a particular leadership function, will you be wise enough to pass the reins to a capable successor? Or will you fight it?
If you want to be a legacy leader, know the mission and vision is bigger than you. And if you secretly relish the idea this whole thing would fall apart without you, then you aren’t a leader, you hold a title.
If you find yourself relishing the publicity a little too much or resisting succession planning a little too hard, you might go fast, but you’ll peter out fast too.
To learn seven symptoms of CEO Disease that will keep you from going far as a leader, get your free copy of my leadership ebook: Is CEO Disease Crippling Your Company? How to Diagnose and Treat It Before It’s Too Late.
Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash.