Do you think about your leadership legacy?
What type of culture do you want to leave in your organization?
As a result of your leadership, what will remain long after you left?
Andrew Thorn is a business coach, consultant, and psychologist. He has recently written Leading With Your Legacy In Mind. I had the opportunity to ask him about his new book and leaving a leadership legacy.
The Importance of Legacy
Why did you decide to write about legacy?
My father passed away when he was 65 years old. I was born when he was 30, so many of the important events of my life happened 30 years after they did for him. When he died, I had an overwhelming sense that I was next in line. This caused me to think about my legacy and the impact that I was making. I asked myself if I was satisfied with my life, and the answer was no. I began to make some changes and that included writing about the process of creating a legacy.
What is Leadership?
What’s your definition of leadership?
Leadership is the act of making things better for others. When we live by this definition, all of us, regardless of our formal title or lack thereof, can engage in leading with our legacy in mind.
What is the “arc of leadership”?
The “arc of leadership” represents our own maturation as a leader. It helps us remember that life is a circular experience and that it is difficult for us to see it as a whole. When we pull out an arc, or a part of that circle, we can study it and understand it more effectively. Each arc calls us into movement and improvement.
Where To Spend Your Time
I’m interested in your view of balance. Your chapter on this subject is called “From Balance to Focus”. What does this mean?
A very lucky person, over the course of a 45 year career, will spend about 117,000 hours at work (average of 50 hours a week working), 131,000 hours sleeping (average of 8 hours a day sleeping), and 65,000 hours (average of 4 hours a day) taking care of personal responsibilities. This scenario would leave the lucky person with a little more than 50,000 hours to use however he or she wants.
Unfortunately, most of us work longer, sleep less, encumber life with unnecessary personal responsibilities and then find ourselves too tired to make our free time matter. Just by looking at the hours, we can see that there is no way to balance the number of hours between work and life. We need to work to provide for our needs. Instead of trying to balance the time, we must spend time focusing our efforts into meaningful work.
The time we spend at work is the time when we are most awake, most alert, most focused on what we want, most productive and most engaged. Once we focus on where we want to work and how we will contribute what we know we must contribute, we find ourselves full of energy at the end of the work day, which in turn means that I can use my 50,000 hours more effectively, too.
How do you coach clients to understand ‘purpose’?
I think it is important that we understand that purpose is a moving target. In other words, purpose is different during the different seasons of life. Sometimes we hang on to a purpose for too long or we let it go too soon. This is why we must be constantly evaluating what we find to be meaningful. When we connect to meaning, our purposes come into focus, too. When we can see purpose for what it is – the guiding force of why we do what we do, then we can begin to also know what to do. I use one or two questions to connect my clients to purpose: (1) Why do I want to do this? & (2) If this were my last day, would I still be willing to do what I am about to do? Once these questions are answered, there are very few doubts about purpose. I don’t want to make it any more complicated than this.
From Success to Significance
Let’s talk about one of the leadership arcs: moving from success to significance. How do you help coach someone in this area?