the legacy of a leader

I came across a really interesting quote in Wired today. It said

Culture is the legacy of a leader. What is the leader’s responsibility? To establish trust, a set of values, and to foster communications that forms the team. ~ Gene Kranz

Gene Kranz is a former NASA flight director for the Apollo 11 lunar landing and leader of the ground team that brought the crew of Apollo 13 safely back to Earth after an explosion crippled the spacecraft in flight. In the interview the quote comes from, Kranz is speaking specifically about corporate culture rather than the geographical culture.

It’s interesting though to think of leaders as responsible not only for what their team does but for the manner in which they do it, the way they treat each other, their attitudes at the water cooler, the way they handle victory and defeat. Interesting to think of a legacy not of what got done, but how it got done.

This is only a partially developed thought, but it’s kept my attention all day so I hoped that noting it might help the rest of it take shape. It’s strange that a leadership quote stood out to me. I don’t read leadership books. I don’t like the front of the room. I am asked to lead more often than I would like. But there’s something about this quote that is working its way around my brain. I’m not entirely sure that it’s a fair quote — can one person be held responsible for another’s attitude? But if the leaders don’t take responsibility for the ‘feel’ of a place, who will?

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