Printer Friendly

Charlie: The Legacy of a Leader, Part II



The second remarkable attribute Charlie possessed was his keen sense of identity. In my profession of leader development, I see how leaders view themselves. I’ve seen many embrace the image of servant-leadership in an effort to improve performance. I don’t have a problem with this concept — in fact I endorse it — but I am concerned when I ask people to define "servant-leadership" and their responses make it clear this is just another technique to them. Some in business have told me frankly that if they found that servant-leadership didn’t make them more effective, they would try something else. Charlie had exactly the opposite view. He loved and embraced and lived out his identity, first and foremost, as a servant who was given the responsibility for leading.

That spirit infused everything Charlie did by altering the way he viewed people. He often reminded me that people, all people, are of infinite and eternal worth. C.S. Lewis wrote:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal mortal /mor·tal/ (mor´t'l)
1. subject to death, or destined to die.

2. fatal.

1. Liable or subject to death.

. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting everlasting or immortelle (ĭm'ôrtĕl`), names for numerous plants characterized by papery or chaffy flowers that retain their form and often their color when dried and are used for winter bouquets and decorations.  splendors. This high view of people makes serving the highest calling rather than the lowest duty.

— C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, Harper Collins, 2001, p 46

Charlie was overwhelmed o·ver·whelm  
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.

 at the privilege of serving people. He helped me imagine what our world could be like if civic, business, religious, and educational leaders walked into the marketplace, the classroom, the jobsite, the neighborhood, and really saw people in this way. Wouldn’t it change everything? Wouldn’t our businesses and organizations, our schools and communities flourish with such leadership?

The third attribute that characterized char·ac·ter·ize  
tr.v. character·ized, character·iz·ing, character·iz·es
1. To describe the qualities or peculiarities of: characterized the warden as ruthless.

 Charlie was his peculiar vision. In my work with leaders, I’ve seen individuals with a breathtaking breath·tak·ing  
1. Inspiring or exciting: a breathtaking view; a breathtaking ride.

2. Astonishing; astounding: breathtaking insensitivity.
 ability to see far into the future, to peer deeply into an issue, to grasp the broad dimensions of a challenge. But Charlie’s vision was transcendent. It drove how he lived out his purpose and identity every day.

Charlie possessed what I have come to call “third generation vision.” Third generation vision is easily described in child-rearing terms. My wife and I are attempting to raise three wonderful children, Abigail, Andrew, and Annie. If we had “first generation vision” as parents, we would be satisfied if our children did as they were told, minded their manners, spoke when spoken to, didn’t do anything to embarrass embarrass /em·bar·rass/ (em-bar´as) to impede the function of; to obstruct.

To interfere with or impede (a bodily function or part).
 us and covered up any obvious hygiene problems. First generation vision is parenting for my personal convenience and near term objectives. I’ve seen quite a few leaders like this; they enjoy the utility of having people around them to further their personal goals. As long as folks do as they are told and don’t create problems, everything is fine. Until, one day, everything isn’t fine.

Parents with “second generation vision” see their responsibilities differently. They want to raise their children in such a way that the kids become good citizens, good spouses, good parents, good neighbors, good leaders and contributors to society. Any time you see such a parent, I say commend com·mend  
tr.v. com·mend·ed, com·mend·ing, com·mends
1. To represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable; recommend.

2. To express approval of; praise. See Synonyms at praise.

 them. The same goes for leaders of every sort.

Then, there are parents (and leaders like Charlie) who possess a much greater perspective: “third generation vision.” As I think about my own three children, I’m learning to stop and ask, How do I raise them in such a way that my grandchildren GRANDCHILDREN, domestic relations. The children of one's children. Sometimes these may claim bequests given in a will to children, though in general they can make no such claim. 6 Co. 16.  will be great citizens, husbands, wives, parents, neighbors, leaders and contributors? Now, faced with a parental leadership issue, I back up and consider how I can leverage the situation to build the wisdom, character, and ability of my kids so that their kids will make a difference.

Businesses and organizations of all types are at a crossroads. Anyone can see that. Talent and leadership for the future are in short supply. A large part of this crisis springs from the fact that we have not developed our own children and the people in our own organizations to live and lead in a future without us. Charlie’s visionary 1. visionary - One who hacks vision, in the sense of an Artificial Intelligence researcher working on the problem of getting computers to "see" things using TV cameras. (There isn't any problem in sending information from a TV camera to a computer.  life makes me ask over and over: Are you leading from first-, second- or third-generation vision?

Purpose. Identity. Vision. By the time I got home from Texas my image of Charlie seemed complete . . . until a few months later, when I received the bow that wrapped up the whole package.

Charlie’s wife Kay KAY Kick Ass Year
KAY Kansas Association of Youth
 called me one day. She was traveling in Colorado and wondered if we could meet for coffee. I walked into the coffee shop a bit late, and spotting Kay, angled toward her. She rose when saw me and embraced me warmly. Then, pushing back, with tears in her eyes she said, “Dan, Charlie loved you so much.”

That’s when I got it: The heart that drives a great leader is a heart of love for the people he or she serves. This is the difference between attaining “results” and creating a living, lasting legacy of changed people who continue to make a difference long after the leader is gone.

Somerset Maugham, in his novel Of Human Bondage Of Human Bondage (1915) is a novel by William Somerset Maugham. It is generally agreed to be his masterpiece, and to be strongly autobiographical in nature, although Maugham stated in a signed inscription: "This is a novel, not an autobiography, though much in it is , described an aging couple saying, “They had done nothing, and when they went it would be just as if they had never been.” I’m afraid this will be the epitaph epitaph, strictly, an inscription on a tomb; by extension, a statement, usually in verse, commemorating the dead. The earliest such inscriptions are those found on Egyptian sarcophagi.  of most leaders.

So I keep having to ask: What kind of leader are you? Are your days characterized by the intentional in·ten·tion·al  
1. Done deliberately; intended: an intentional slight. See Synonyms at voluntary.

2. Having to do with intention.
 purpose to make a difference in people’s lives? Do you joyfully joy·ful  
Feeling, causing, or indicating joy. See Synonyms at glad1.

joyful·ly adv.
 embrace the privilege of serving infinite and eternally e·ter·nal  
1. Being without beginning or end; existing outside of time. See Synonyms at infinite.

2. Continuing without interruption; perpetual.

 valuable immortals? Do you have a vision that sees future generations touched by your everyday encounters? And above all, do you truly love those you serve?

I hope my epitaph and yours will be written not in stone but in the testimony of people standing in the aisles to express how grateful they are for the difference we made in their lives.


Copyright 2007 InsideWork
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright (c) Mochila, Inc.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:On the long drive to and from the funeral of his mentor, Dan Wooldridge realized what made Charlie s
Date:Jul 11, 2007
Previous Article:Charlie: The Legacy of a Leader
Next Article:Tips for Succeeding in College

Related Articles
A sustainable leader for sustainable agriculture. (2002 Agribusiness Leader of the Year).
The legacy of Charlie and Virginia.
Charles E. Smith, Jr., 60.
Charles J. O'Connell, 80.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters