The John Scott Blog - What Makes a Legendary Leader?
Greetings to you! It's not long past Easter weekend, a Christian holiday celebrated around the world and also concurrent with Passover the Jewish 8 days of remembrance. And If you will allow me, I am compelled to reflect and share a sermon I heard by Jim Bergen for his Easter Service. I think it is an important message for us today and hope you find the relevance, whatever your chosen faith.
First, Jim pointed out that Jesus was a real man, not wimpy like some of us are led to learn or believe. Compassionate, forgiving, yes; but not weak or timid. This then led him to discuss how he had traveled throughout the world, including throughout Africa, doing ministry work. About three years ago when serving the Masai Tribe, one of their Chief’s asked, “Pastor Jim, in America, how does a boy become a man?” This floored Jim as he pondered all the rituals that many cultures have marking such an occasion, but he could not come up with a standard for America. This haunted Jim and it concerns me too. Now, before we go further, understand that I recognize that what I am about to cover is applicable to both men and women. So keep that in mind while I pick on us guys for a moment. But my comments are intended to be for both sexes.
This then challenged me to use this example to consider what makes legendary leaders. After all, Jesus still has a worldwide celebration for him 2,000 years later. Pretty impressive, right? Who else has such an honor? It is undeniable that he was a legendary leader. A Jewish one at that. So let’s look at what are some of the characteristics of such a leader and compare them to leaders of today. Some facts:
Legendary Leaders always go first. Study the great leaders in history, especially the battles, and you will find the great ones never sent in other men first. They always led the pack. Why is this important? I don’t know about you, but I am always wary of someone telling me to do something that they have not done themselves first. Legendary leaders always go first as examples so that we might follow and support them. Think of a few times you have witnessed this and how motivating it was to you and others.
Another mark of Legendary Leaders is that they “die to themselves”. This is a really critical but confusing point that has certainly gotten lost in American culture. Great leaders are actually servants. They represent others, not themselves, and are thus experts at servant leadership. That means the people they lead ALWAYS matter first. All of their thoughts, strategies, and actions are to encourage and lift all those they lead. One has to purge ego and selfishness and concerns about image or standing in order to be a legendary leader. In fact, the best ones are actually humble, not loud or self-promoting.
Legendary Leaders naturally always “own” their actions. They never, ever blame others for their frustrations or failings. They are in charge, so they own it. If you find a so-called leader accusing or blaming someone or something, turn your back and run because they will never be reliable or legendary. This may be hard to accept today because accusing is so commonplace in America, especially in politics. But my guess is that we won’t care or remember any of these folks 2,000 years from now because they are not Legendary Leaders.
I hope this is as thought-provoking for you as it has been for me. I am intentionally brief and to-the-point because it is really simple stuff and may not need defense. But the reality for us at Cedrus is that most of our clients are successful business leaders or had one in their family. American financial success does not grant us legendary status by a long shot. But most of our clients want to continue learning and becoming what it means to become a mature man or woman despite their wealth. Most of us are leaders in some capacity…so these are additional thoughts on how to get better and more mature. Lastly, as fiduciaries of your wealth at Cedrus, we have to often make decisions about who to associate with and constantly find leaders to refer to you when there is a need or problem. As such, it is appropriate to share some of the “filters” we use to find persons of the highest standards that eventually get proven results. Maybe even become legendary someday.
Thank you for your business and trust in Cedrus.