LEADERSHIP AND CHARLIE BROWN 2024-03-18T00:19:00-04:00


I am sure that if we all reviewed decades of “Peanuts” comic strips, we would learn a considerable amount about leadership and fostering strong relationships. However, that is not why I titled this week’s newsletter as I did.

I wanted to pique your interest and draw your attention to Charlie Brown’s creator, Charles Schultz. For 25 years, whenever I facilitated Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” workshop at Georgetown University, Charles Schultz’s name came up.

Within “Habit 2,” “Begin with the End in Mind,” Covey talked about a pop quiz originated by Schultz. It was offered in the context of a discussion about our legacies. I thought about this quiz again this week because it was brought up by “Leadership Insights” blog author Skip Prichard. I recommend Skip’s blog to all of you.

Guess what? Skip clarifies that this simple pop quiz was NOT, as many thought, originated by the “Peanuts” creator. In fact, no one really knows from where it emanated. For now, it is attributed to that ubiquitous author, “Anonymous.”

See if you can ace this quiz:

Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.
This is a very challenging quiz about people who at one time were famous and may still be famous. Most people will answer a few of these questions correctly, but virtually no one answers them all accurately.

The second part of this quiz poses these questions:

List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
These questions are more personal, right? They bring up warm feelings within us. As leaders, we can win awards or prizes, be cited for personal achievements, gain the corner office, or achieve a big title, but at the end of the day, people who have truly influenced our unique journeys are the ones we remember.
Think about the leaders who have truly influenced you during your career.

-How did they make an impact on you?

-What did they teach you?

-Which lessons from them still resonate years or decades later?

This “Schultz” quiz teaches us that leadership is not about fame and fortune. It is about relationships, connections, kindness, empathy and compassion. As you think about your own legacy – in your current job, in your next job, or even for your entire career, I invite you to ponder what is truly important.

How will you leave behind a positive imprint, an imprint so powerful that colleagues, managers, direct reports and peers will be able to say “Our organization is a better, stronger, more effective place because that person worked here.”

How will you be able to carve a lasting impact on your colleagues like your favorite teacher or mentor influenced you? True influence is measured in ongoing impact, not in terms of immediate awards or accolades.

One of my favorite teammates, who worked with me at Georgetown Law decades ago and now lives close by, still asserts that often when encountering a tough situation, she pauses and asks herself, “What would Larry say?”

I laugh at such comments because I find them hard to believe. However, as leaders, if we can have a lasting impact upon those with whom we are fortunate to work, we are truly blessed.

So I encourage you to be like the people who came to mind as you answered the second part of the quiz. Support, encourage and guide your colleagues. on their own career journeys.

As Skip Prichard’s post reminds us:

“Reflect on this as a leader. Your actions, your empathy, your ability to make someone feel seen, are what will be remembered. It’s about the legacy of your interactions, not the list of your accomplishments…Invest in people – they re the true measure of our wealth.”

If you believe this content would resonate with a friend or colleague, please feel free to forward it along!