Leadership Qualities: Establishing a Legacy.

National Anthem: Jamaica – Jamaica, Land We Love

Leaders who deliberately build a legacy for their people are seen as fathers, shepherds, friends, deliverers, and builders.

This being the month where we celebrate fathers, I have decided to dedicate this month of blogs on leadership to fathers, beginning with the nations’ fathers.

On June 6, 2006, US President George Bush issued a proclamation recognizing June as CaribbeanAmerican Heritage Month. Fourteen years later, the legacy remains:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2019 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

I encourage all Americans to join in celebrating the history, culture, and achievements of Caribbean Americans with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”   


So, imagine a Caribbean leader who embodied the best that both the Caribbean and America has to offer as it seeks to educate the minds of the present generation to become visionaries and builders of the future.  Former Jamaican Prime Minister, Edward Phillip George Seaga (1930-2019), was of such calibre.  Born in Boston Massachusetts, Seaga was educated at the Wolmers Schools (Jamaica) and Harvard University (https://nlj.gov.jm/biographies/most-hon-edward-phillip-george-seaga-on-pc-lld-1930/).  Armed with a degree in the Social Sciences, Seaga returned to Jamaica and patterned a father of his scholastic discipline, Bronislaw Malinowski (https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/sociology-and-social-reform/sociology-general-terms-and-concepts-87), employing participant observation to understand the issues at the heart of those he would one day lead as Prime Minister.  

History will record Seaga as one of Jamaica’s most beloved leaders.  In snippets of tributes from his proteges in politics at the last sitting of the House of Parliament, we heard of a man who went into the inner cities and studied their religion of revivalism, ate what they ate and slept where they slept, sometimes with as many as six people across a bed.  He was remembered as one who took the time to see the potential in the lives of these young inner city dwellers and who gave them opportunities to launch the political careers that they enjoy today (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Uk1py0nGY).  He is remembered for many things but among the highlights are the national training agency (HEART – NTA); the Students’ Loan Bureau; the Jamaica Stock Exchange; the Urban Development Corporation; and, the Jamaica Cultural Development Centre.

Legacy is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legacy).  Deliberately established, a leader’s legacy endures for the organization and its people.  And, effective leadership only happens when “the leader strengthens others’ capacity to learn, to reflect and to extract meaning from their learning” (Site Staff, 2012; https://www.chieflearningofficer.com/2012/12/10/the-benefits-of-creating-a-leadership-legacy/).

This past week, Jamaicans said goodbye to Edward Seaga, hailing him as a father to the nation (https://jis.gov.jm/former-prime-minister-the-most-hon-edward-seaga-passes/).  We also bid goodbye to four other fathers of the nation.  They are: Martin Henry (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190528/gleaner-columnist-martin-henry-collapses-dies-shortly-after-live-tv), C. Evans Bailey (http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/reverend-c-evans-bailey-methodist-minister-and-former-rjr-chairman-is-dead), Monsignor Stanley Shearer (http://www.loopjamaica.com/content/monsignor-stanley-shearer-brother-late-pm-hugh-shearer-has-died), and Errol Harvey (http://www.rjrnewsonline.com/local/errol-harvey-former-chief-photographer-at-jis-dies).  Each stellar in their own right, they chronicled the era of a people and championed the causes of those they served, leaving their legacy for all to see.

So, what will your legacy be?

Fannin, 2018; https://www.intelivate.com/team-strategy/define-leadership-legacy

Here are a few ideas for establishing a legacy:

  1. A clear moral (guiding) philosophy.
  2. A video library.
  3. A photo-journal.
  4. A donated library collection.
  5. A work-flow journal.
  6. A training manual.
  7. A production template.
  8. A building, road, and/or bridge.

We thank these father’s of the nation for leaving such rich legacies behind.  We also share heartfelt sympathies with the family members they have left behind.

As I close, I encourage all leaders to leave a legacy that includes the promotion of improving mental health.  Perhaps there are some lessons about how to do this in the following case of Tom, a senior vice president of HR at a global chemical company.

“Tom took the risk and opportunity to reveal to a group of high potentials a personal situation in which he had a mental breakdown due to the way he handled the stress and pressure of his job. The story he told was poignant and unforgettable, but the message even more important — ‘pay attention and be aware of your behavior and any anxiety that you experience. Mental health and the capacity for proper perspective is an essential leadership competency that is too often overlooked and underestimated.’
He shared this with the company’s future leaders and continued to use his influence where he could, to stress the importance of making career choices with one’s health and family in mind. He knew what young high potentials didn’t know — that there is a price to pay for success. He wanted to influence future leaders to practice life balance — to not only speak it, but live it” (Site Staff, 2012).


So, don’t forget: “Your legacy will be defined by the passion and impact of the people you influence. What do you want your legacy to be?”(Kris Fannin, 2018; https://www.intelivate.com/team-strategy/define-leadership-legacy).

Looking for some inspiration to build your legacy, consider For a Teacher’s Heart (FaTH) and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfPWaPCJ0vE  .

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

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