Leadership’s Ripple Effect
This morning I was reminded of a paper I wrote years ago for the Association of Continuing Legal Education titled “The Job of a Leader is to Develop Other Leaders.” I published this paper on the web when I created my leadership coaching website.
I thought of this paper because a member of the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL) network posed a question today. She will be speaking at a leadership cohort graduation ceremony and giving the graduates batons to symbolize the importance of passing on the leadership lessons they have acquired. She asked colleagues for quotes or poems that reflected the ripple effect of great leadership. Fortunately, many people responded with emails.
A colleague found this article on the ripple effect:
“Just like dropping a pebble into water and watching as the ripples expand across it, an event or action, too, can create motion beyond its first impact or influence, as it grows outward, ringing in all directions, eventually arriving at our inspiration and rousing us to act as well.
In this sense, the ripple effect applies to all of us and our actions. Whether we know it or not, the foundation of what we do is laid by what came or was said before, and even prior to that, and before that too, until we can no longer trace the lineage of catalysts and ideas.”
The ripple effect is one of the most powerful conditions we can create during our journeys as leaders. One powerful way to do so is to pass the leadership baton to the people we lead, in every job or volunteer position in which we are privileged to serve in a leadership role. As Theodore Shaw once said, “We have to take the baton when it is passed to us, and run as fast and hard as we can, and then pass it on to someone else.”
Having the ability to create a ripple leadership effect and to pass the baton to our younger teammates is one of the true blessings of leadership. As I look back upon my 32 years as the head of the Continuing Legal Education Department at Georgetown Law, my proudest achievement – without a doubt – was sharing leadership lessons with teammates and then, years later, watching as these same teammates have been appointed to leadership positions within academia, the federal government or the legal profession
To whom have you passed the leadership baton?
Have you checked in on them lately?
Have you offered your support and encouragement?
Have you connected with them on LinkedIn?
Our opportunities to pass that leadership baton do not end when we stop working directly with people if we make the effort to continue our relationships. In this era of social media, it is easier than ever to maintain these relationships and to make sure that the ripple effect is continuing.
The emails this morning about passing the leadership baton or sustaining a leadership ripple effect reinforced a wonderful passage I read this week in a chapter on ego within the book “Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty.
Shetty writes, “Real greatness is when you use your own achievements to teach others, and they learn how to teach others, and the greatness that you’ve accomplished expands exponentially. Rather than seeing achievement as status, think of the role you play in other people’s lives as the most valuable currency.”
This principle applies in all aspects of our lives, at home and at work. When I initially read this passage by Jay Shetty, , I thought about the leadership lessons I have tried to pass on to my two sons since they were children. Now that they are in leadership positions in their jobs, I see them passing on some of these lessons to their professional colleagues. Nothing makes me prouder.
I urge you to pause and reflect on the leadership lessons you have learned during your own leadership journeys.
Which lessons have you passed on to others?
Which lessons can you pass on now?
To whom can you disseminate wisdom this coming week?
How can you best achieve this ripple effect goal?
Please pass the baton. Help others learn about leadership. You will find it is very rewarding.