Likely most of us have heard the story of the troubled Apollo 13 mission. Three men strap themselves on top of a Saturn 5 rocket and leave the relative safety of earth for a walk on the moon. What could possibly go wrong?! As you are no doubt aware something does go wrong when an explosion severely damages their space craft. Their journey becomes a life & death struggle to return home.
The end result is a legacy of team work, innovative thinking, adaptability and the importance of life over mission.
What if instead of turning around they decided to not change the scope of the mission? What if they decided to still walk on the moon. They may have made it down to the surface, but I doubt they would have returned safely to earth. What would the legacy be had that been their choice?
What’s in a legacy
A legacy by definition is:
What I see in many leaders is a desire to stick with the tried and true. It might be their autocratic management style, being married to all the processes they developed over the years, or even something as seemingly simple as requiring everyone to wear business casual at work.
I believe this is especially present when the leader of an organization is the founder, and married to their original dream & approach they established 20 years ago. It helped them get to where they are today so why wouldn’t it serve them going forward?
“<beep> Houston we’ve started our decent to the moon’s surface”
It’s been my observation many organizations are already on the decent towards the moon’s surface.
Ask yourself: “What do I want my legacy be?”. You are at choice as a leader
Building a legacy
Many organizations start transformation programs to essentially pivot in a point in time. These can be very beneficial and often are necessary if they have neglected changing how they work for a long time. I’ve worked on many of these initiatives in my role as an Agile Coach. The problem I’ve observed is many cases is after the change program is done every goes “phew I’m glad that’s over and we’re back to status quo!”
We need to stop thinking of change as something which happens at a single point in time. Change is happening all around us all the time. Technology is moving very fast, the values of your people are shifting, your competitors no longer have the boundaries of physical location to contend with, and so much more. I believe one of the most important attributes of a leader is their ability to exist in uncertainty and change all the time.
I know I want my legacy to be Leading for Change. I am working hard to be in this place in all parts of my life including my coaching, writing, teaching, family and more. After all it means I can leave this world a little better than I found it.