Connecting with people through leadership impacts the people around you and creates a lasting legacy. My father is a great example. He had two jobs his entire life. The first one – a high school coach and history teacher – lasted 13 years and the second one, over 25 years. His first profession created situations where money was extremely tight due to a low salary. My mother would often have to write IOUs to cover bills, and it often meant late night and long hours away from home. His second position brought lofty titles and a salary that allowed us to live a fairly privileged life. However, it was within his first career in education that he made his connections with people and his enduring legacy.
Signs of Connecting with People
The years my father spent as a coach and teacher were well before I came along. I remember growing up and running into people who stop us, and say, “Coach! It’s so good to see you!” My father would beam with pride and then introduce the men to me along with a story of something he remembered specifically about those days he either taught or coached them. These encounters were frequent, but brief. They would usually end with these men telling me how they loved and admired my dad for teaching them how to be a good person. I can still feel the sense of pride I experienced every time this scenario was repeated.
Connecting with People through Leadership
In John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he describes “The Law of Connection. ” He makes several points that speak to how my dad was able to have made connections with teenagers that transcended into their adulthood. Maxwell says, “One key to connecting with others is recognizing that even in a group, you have to relate to people as individuals.” Even though the men who stopped us had played on teams or had been part of a class, they each felt connected with my dad as individuals. He, in turn, remembered each of them for their individuality, as revealed by the stories he would share. He had definitely touched their hearts before he asked for their hands to either learn or play to the best of their abilities.
Connecting with People and Legacy
Those connections with people he made over just 13 years as a young educator and coach still existed when my dad passed away in 2015 following a 12 year battle with Alzheimer’s. Several of his former students and players attended his funeral and spoke about what they most remembered about him. They mentioned several of the same things Maxwell points out about how leaders make connections:
- his ability to communicate with openness and sincerity
- the way he lived his message,
- his offer of direction and hope
- his belief in them as young men
As someone who came into leadership very naturally, I don’t believe my dad ever intentionally set out to leave a specific legacy. However, if we are to “be judged by how well the people we invested in carried on after we are gone”, as Maxwell says, then my dad is enjoying his well-deserved place in Heaven.
As you are putting “The Law of Connection” into practice now by connecting with people and building relationships through your leadership, how can you ensure these current connections and relationships ultimately contribute to your lasting legacy? Professional coaching is available to learn how to connecting with people into action.