The Leaders We Remember

Everyone has a lousy leader story. If you’re a lousy leader, you won’t be forgotten.

You intentionally recall positive memories, but negative memories come to you uninvited when you wake in the night.

Painful memories are recalled with greater frequency, intensity, and clarity than pleasurable. Ask about lousy leaders and the room lights up. The lousy leaders I remember were paranoid, fearful, manipulative, and self-absorbed.

Respect solidifies memory. Your eyes brighten when I ask you to tell me about a leader you respect.

You remember traits like:

  1. Care.
  2. Confidence.
  3. Clarity.
  4. Commitment.

I admire leaders when they reflect values and traits that I aspire to have. Grit, faithfulness, courage, and love.

How do leaders become positive memories?

The leaders we remember with joy:

Overcome disappointment.

The leaders you admire face the same disappointments other leaders face, but they rise above bitterness. Disappointment turns to bitterness and bitterness always makes you small.

Live with open hearts.

The leaders you remember let themselves be seen. When you pull back and protect yourself, others pull back and protect themselves.

Open-hearted leaders expand influence.

Self-protection and self-serving might enable advancement, but they never inspire a great memory.

Express joy and appreciation.

The leaders you remember enjoy the opportunity to serve. Vitality and vibrancy inspire people.

Make leading about joyful service.

Power of memory:

You act with the past in mind when you remember.

You might push against a bad memory. You might judge yourself. You might find joy when the present is like the past.

The memories you rehearse become the script of your play.

You become like the things you remember. I remember the grit of my dad and find grit in myself.

We become our memories.

What is true of the leaders you remember?

How might leaders employ memory in organizational life?