The Legacy of a Great Leader

Great Leaders Multiply Leadership

I bet that the last time you attended a funeral or memorial service, you heard someone talk about legacy. Legacy is the impact we leave behind when we are gone. Some people leave a legacy that makes people remember them and the impact they made, and others leave a legacy that continues to impact years after they are gone. Great leaders leave a legacy that continues to impact.


When I was in the Marine Corps, I attended several change of command ceremonies. It was normal for a battalion commander to move from one unit to another or get promoted out of the battalion level of leadership. The unit received a new leader, and this process continues today, a decade after I left the Marine Corps.

Like our military leaders, great leaders are able to move on because a new leader is ready to take the mantle. Good leaders will build a brand around themselves, inspire loyalty to their personality, and leave a legacy wherein people talk about their leadership.

Great leaders, however, build a brand around the work they do or the company they lead. They inspire loyalty to the mission, and their legacy is that the work continues long after they are gone. Great leaders leave a legacy of continued impact because they multiply leadership by creating new leaders.

Your leadership is going to focus on you or on the work you do. It is entirely possible for you to make your name remembered for years to come, but will the impact you are making now continue on after you? To answer, “Yes” to that question, you must prepare leaders to take over for you.

How do you make leaders who will carry the torch when you’re gone?

Transformational Leadership: You can get short-term results from people by offering them a bonus check for their performance, or you can lead people to buy into the mission and vision of the work you do. Research suggests that people  committed to the mission of the organization are more likely to stay there even with lower pay, worse benefits, and bosses they don’t like.

When you cast vision and create mission, make it out of the impact you want to make on other people and not the impact it has on you.

Give Ownership: Ikea is a genius in ownership. Want to know why that new couch came without the legs installed? They do that so you will put them on and feel invested in the furniture. Ownership sticks with people when they feel invested in the outcome.

Give your up and coming leaders the opportunity to invest in the outcomes of the agency so they will take ownership of the work. Let them in on the goal setting, strategic planning, and brainstorming sessions. Give their ideas a chance to influence the results.

Mentor: Some of the most influential leaders in history had a mentor (St. Peter the Apostle – Jesus, Aristotle – Plato, Gates – Buffet). Ask any leader worth their weight, and they will tell you that someone mentored them to accomplish greatness and lead effectively.

You must mentor those leaders you want to carry on the mission after you’re gone.

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Question: How are you preparing the next generation of leaders to take over for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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