John Maxwell’s Leadership Law #21: The Law of the Legacy

By October 4, 2018 October 23rd, 2023 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

John Maxwell's leadership law #21. The Law of Legacy

According to John Maxwell, the most important question you can ask yourself as a leader might surprise you: “What do you want people to say at your funeral?”

Maxwell, an expert author and speaker in leadership, concludes his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership with precisely this concept: the Law of the Legacy.

As Maxwell says, “a leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.” Here’s why what you leave behind is as important as what you accomplish in your business.

The Law of the Legacy

As much as we try to avoid thinking about it, our time on earth is limited. When you’re gone, how will people remember you? At your funeral, people shouldn’t have to guess about the kind of life you lead or the legacy you left behind—what you stood for should be evident from your actions.

This also applies to owning a business: when you leave the company, your employees will have to carry on in your stead. As the Law of the Picture mentions, you should become the leader you want your employees to be. By training your people well, you’re ensuring that your legacy lives on after you leave.

The natural progression of leadership, according to Maxwell, is as follows: achievement comes when you do great things by yourself, success comes when you empower your employees to do great things for you, significance comes from developing leaders to do great things with you, and legacy comes when you put leaders in a position to do great things without you.

Regarding the Law of Legacy, John Maxwell writes, “A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.” The accurate measure of your legacy lies in how well you influence the people you leave behind. Your aim should always be to leave an intentional impact on future generations of leaders at your company.

Legacy and Leadership in Your Business

So, how do you make sure that you’re utilizing the Law of the Legacy to your advantage? Maxwell provides some key action points.

First, you must decide what legacy you want to leave behind. What do you feel is your purpose in life? What difference do you want to make while you’re here? How can you impact future generations to fulfill that life purpose after you’re gone?

Once you’re clear on your purpose, you must ensure you’re a living example of the legacy you want to leave. Good intentions are one thing, but if you never live out your values, they’re not doing you much good. You might need to change specific behaviors to make the Law of the Legacy work for you. It is an ongoing process to work on throughout your career.

Finally, could you think about your team? Who can help carry your mission forward after you no longer lead the company? Invest in these people and ensure they’re clear on your mission. Your impact on these future leaders will be the crux of your legacy for years.

It might be disheartening to think about a time when you’re no longer involved in your company for whatever reason, but the Law of the Legacy ensures that your vision will always remain. If you want to talk about making the Law of the Legacy work for you, fill out my contact form, and let’s talk.

Coach Dave

Watch the video below for more information on John C. Maxwell and why I like this book.

Click here to read more articles in my “Laws of Leadership” series.

John Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: An Introduction
Dave Schoenbeck
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