Environmental Strategies Great Leaders Live by… – By Arnie Wohlgemut
I’m sure you’ve heard this a hundred times: “Leave the place better than you found it”. Even I’ve used it!
But at its core is a fundamental flaw. We assume our improvements will stand the test of time, even long after we are gone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should not improve things. That is what strong leaders do.
But we need to understand that leadership is organic. Leaders change environments. Subsequent leaders, if they are truly leading, will continue to change that environment.
I regularly have coffee with my best friend. One day he shared his deep disappointed when he saw the procedures and policies that he put in place ignored and even violated after he retired! This really bothered him. I’ve had similar experiences.
The truth is, we can’t expect our way of doing things to make sense to those who follow in our footsteps. They bring their own experiences to their personal leadership style. And they may have a completely different mandate than we did. Yet our human response is to become discouraged as we see “our legacy” dismantled or disassembled.
In the much the same way, we can’t expect people to change unless they want to. If the workplace becomes unpredictable or even toxic, many people lapse into survival mode avoiding pain or grief. That’s human nature – we put more effort into avoiding pain than pursuing what is good for us.
I believe we need to revise the statement to: “I made this a better place to live, work or play while I was there, because I valued the people I worked with”. That is a better way to acknowledge that we can make a difference…EVERY DAY!
Arnie Wohlgemut is the Senior Coach and President of KP Mylene | Building to Lead. A leadership development company passionate about supporting new or emerging leaders with unique and exciting resources that inspire them to reach their potential.