Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Legacy Leadership: The World Talk Radio Interview with Jeannine Sandstrom and Lee Smith

Legacy Leadership: The World Talk Radio Interview with Jeannine Sandstrom and Lee Smith

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Lee:  Yes. Thanks. Well as I think about this best practice, I am reminded of a childhood game called follow the leader. Did any of you ever play that game where you’d line up behind the child in front and then you have to mimic every single behavior that that person does and how fun it is.  If they fall down you’ve got to fall down.  If they get up – if they do somersaults you’ve got to do everything.

That’s what I think of many times when I’m explaining this practice because one thing that we know for sure is that you can’t not influence.  I want you to remember that so I’m going to say it again.  You can’t not influence. I know that’s bad language and vocabulary but makes the point. You might as well – if you’re going to influence anyway you might as well do it very well and for the betterment of people in organizations.

We call this practice the heart of the model because it’s how you connect and model for others so that they – because they will follow. Although no on practice is more important than the other this one focuses you on the real intent which is to model a type of leadership that gets passed onto others. We pass it onto others beyond them forming that legacy that we’ve talked about, a living legacy. It came alive, too in a small, non-profit recently I was working with on an offsite.  A group of managers who were really realizing that they were shifting from management to leadership– all of a sudden, they were having a lot of growth in the county and with their organization by leaps and bounds.

As we discuss this particular practice, I explain that when you’re a leader everyone watches every move you make, every word you say and never misses seeing a single mood change or body language.  So as this idea began to sink in these six leaders began to realize that their attitudes could make the difference in the whole organization.  So how they present themselves every day influences the environment.  I kept reminding them that the people, the followers are watching.

It’s so interesting. By the end of the day we not only had buy in of the model by every member of the team but they began using the language of Legacy Leadership which then brought them to a unified voice and out of their silos.  It was absolutely amazing to watch.

Jeannine:  Lee and I were travelling on a train in England when we started scoping out some of the challenges here that our clients had been talking about and we did.  We did start on the back of a napkin on a train looking at the countryside saying, “If we were to build a model that really encompassed all of the challenges what would that look like?” This best practice four, this Advocator of Differences in Community is probably the one best practice that we intentionally designed in some tension. There’s a strategic type of tension that’s built into this.

If you have in many organizations now teams that are required to be diverse – diversity is mandated. Clients kept telling us that even though they had these teams built out that way that everything that was supposed to be was on this team or in the organization some of the individuals in the team performances still didn’t always deliver the results leaders knew they could and that they were really aware of. The dynamic tension that we built into this model is how do you find folks that are extremely unique in every way and at the same time cast a vision that is so compelling that they work in community, that they’re advocating for the whole of their differences.

There’s a large known corporation. It’s actually space exploration organization that had a specific challenge in this group.  The director inherited a fantastic group of human beings but as she looked around the room they really didn’t have the breadth and depth of the experience that was needed to take care of all of the safety issues that were required in their organization because they were accountable for the safety of the people, the processes and the product.  But what had happened in meeting the mandated requirement is they had – she had folks who weren’t passionate about the work.

So over a period of two years she truly invited into the organization, reformatted the team people who were diverse in their backgrounds, in their styles, in their way of thinking, in their life experiences, in their ages.  She went for as much uniqueness in pulling the new team together as possible of course still keeping the highly technical skill sets that everyone had to have.  So over a two to a three year period this particular team went from being like the outback, ignored organization where you don’t want to go for tour of duty to the frontline leader that’s now a model for all the other sites in saying, “How do you really advocate for uniqueness and similarity or common mission?”  It is phenomenal the kind of safety record now that their clients are giving them credit for helping them craft.

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