I recently read The Road to Character by David Brooks. It was recommended to me by a younger leader whom I deeply respect, so it became my vacation reading. I found the opening paragraph incredibly insightful. It gave me a language for the findings I have been discovering with audiences when asking them about the leaders they most admire. Here is an excerpt.
“Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being – whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.”
Go here for a five-minute video featuring David Brooks explaining the difference between resume virtues and eulogy virtues.
Leaders that others willingly follow, prioritize the eulogy virtues over the resume virtues. They do not ignore the resume virtues and most have an impressive list of resume virtues but these leaders are more committed to the eulogy virtues. It is both/and not either/or.
For example, as they drive better performance throughout the organization they have empathetic interactions where people walk away feeling understood by the boss and more empowered to keep it real.
As they develop a long-term strategic plan, they encourage the hearts of their people by sharing stories as well as priorities, inspiring anecdotes as well as convincing data.
Death is coming, there is no escape. For what do you want to be remembered? When your family, friends and associates gather to celebrate your life, what are the qualities, the ‘eulogy virtues’ you want them to recall as a celebration of your legacy?