Whenever a new boss takes over a work center or as the old one leaves, they look at how they can change or have changed the organization. Whether it was new equipment, a bigger budget, more manning, a better building, etc.; their success is measured by if they made the unit better, faster, or stronger. Every leader wants to leave a legacy. However, is it these tangible items that create a legacy or something else? The greatest legacy a leader leaves is his mark on his people.
Subordinates’ opinions will be based on how they were treated. Senior leadership will judge based on his impact to the mission. Ironically, these two items go hand-in-hand. When a subordinate is trusted and respected, they would do anything for a leader. When the boss constantly has her thumb on them, they will do merely what is required. For example, I have visited a fast food establishment where the assistant manager is overly bossy and the employees did the bare minimum in task completion and customer interaction. I vowed to never go back.
Conversely, I once ate at a restaurant while on a road trip and the waitress was so attentive to my needs and genuinely wanted me to have a great experience that I still remember over a decade later. I had to tell the manager how impressive this young lady was and I asked the bus boy (or who I thought was the bus boy) to get the manager for me. He stated he was the manager and asked how he could help me. This is the same guy who had been clearing and scrubbing tables for most of our meal. He was the restaurant head manager and doing a task nobody really wanted to do. I thought about applying there for a moment.
Leaders who serve others are the ones who will be remembered. The leader who is willing to serve his people and do what it takes to make their lives better will be trusted and respected. This service mentality inspires subordinates to work to their capacity and enjoy the journey. I had 30 minutes with this waitress and manager, but will remember the experience forever. I can only imagine the legacy they have left in the hearts of others and the dividends they have earned for the company.