Retirement parties are very revealing. Despite what you may have spent years focusing on in your career, the truth comes out at these gatherings.
I've worked with many of my clients for a decade or more so I attend many of these events. During all of those occasions, I have never heard someone say, "Boy, Ms. Smith balanced a spreadsheet like no other" or "Jack was my manager and I've never had one smarter than him."
What you are far more likely to hear are statements that reveal the connections made during that person's leadership.
- "Larry took the time to get to know me and understand how I learned. And that's why I appreciate the way he managed me."
- "Brenda would come by my cubicle when she knew my work was backed up and she would quietly encourage me to stay focused and let her know if I needed any help."
Statements like these indicate that this leader was an influencer and a facilitator. When you manage people by leading them to discover their own strengths and show them how to use them, they will repay you by following you for a very long time-maybe even your entire career.
We naturally respond with greater enthusiasm and trust to leaders who engage with us in a way that respects the unique gifts we have and help us develop those fully.
When you choose to lead this way, you create a legacy of people who, because of your trust, are willing to help you tackle infinitely bigger tasks than you would have ever imagined on your own. Your willingness to give your employees the 5 Gifts detailed in A Leader's Gift is the only price tag for leaving this kind of legacy behind.
Next time you attend a retirement party, listen to what people are saying.
How are they remembering the work of the one who is about to leave? Are they talking about how smart she was or how good she was at getting things done through they people she led?
What will they say when your time comes?