A Leader's Legacy
IN THIS SUMMARY
Kouzes and Posner's The Leadership Challenge was first published in 1987, and revised in 1996 and 2002, to become one of the bestselling leadership books of all time. Although each revision was offered to address the changing context in which leaders are forced to operate, the premise remained the same: "The most significant contribution leaders make is not simply to day's bottom line; it is to the long-term development of people and institutions so they can adapt, change, prosper, and grow" (The Leadership Challenge, p. xxviii). A Leader's Legacy is "a much more personal [and] introspective" examination of this-the leader's unique legacy. Encapsulating the major themes of the authors' previous works, it opens up new paths into an exploration of the bigger philosophical issues surrounding leadership, which, in the end, are the personal truth-seeking issues. Thus, their well-known Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership(r) are viewed from the inside-out perspective of Significance, Relationships, Aspirations, and Courage. Whereas The Leadership Challenge was a "field guide," the inside-out approach of A Leader's Legacy positions it more along the lines of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations-a source of self-guidance and self-improvement for the purpose of creating a lasting legacy through the life one leads, moment by moment. According to Kouzes and Posner, people can choose to live self-centered, in-the-present lives that do not "bother to clean up the campsite or put out the fire." Or, they can lead a life, driven by legacy thinking that asks, with each moment, "What can I do to ensure that the campsite experience of those who follow me is even better than my own?" The authors believe that, though individuals may or may not be conscious of their choices, they should be, for if they were, they might create the kind of legacy they want to leave rather than one they unintentionally leave. Thus, through 21 essays, and many provocative stories of well-grounded individuals, they show how legacy thinking forces one to view current actions in a much larger context, to appreciate the contribution of others, to assume responsibility for one's actions, and to move beyond short-term definitions of success.