Replacement Driven Leadership

I’ve been asked, “What is the specific genius of a Tim Marks?”   Based on what I’ve learned from him, I would say it has to be their abilities to replace himself at will.   Let me elaborate.

All of us were raised with certain paradigms, ways of thinking about our world.   Some of us were raised by self-employed parents.   This was my experience.   Others were raised by parents employed by others.   Still others had parents that didn’t create or do any work, as a way to take care of their children financially.   Regardless of what example we saw growing up, that example helped shape our thinking.

By their example our parents created a legacy or pattern in our lives.   Wether purposefully or accidentally, habits, limiting beliefs, and even parts of our future got created without any thought from us.   All of this is true, right up until we recognize that we have a choice to create our own futures.

What if you didn’t have to be dependent on the value that others placed on you?   What if you could pick new examples to learn from and re-pattern your life after?   What if you discovered you could have any future you wanted?

I started out life the son of a small business owner.   My father owned and operated a packaging company.   He was very “independent” in his thinking.   He used to say, “If You want it done right, you do it yourself.”   So Dad was Pharaoh, the top of his own pyramid.   His future was based on his time, effort and thinking.   If he couldn’t show up he didn’t make money.

He wanted security for me, so he told me to go to school and learn to work for someone else.   Now, I was “dependent” on someone else’s thinking.   I was in someone else’s pyramid.   My value was being set by my new master.   Based on others’ thinking, my shifts, wages and working conditions were set permanently.   My future and many choices were made for me.   I knew where I could afford to live, the cars I could drive, what time I had to go to bed, wether my kids could have braces, what kinds of clothes I could wear.   I also knew that I could not get the best medical care or afford the time or money to care for my parents if needed, etc.

As fortunate as I’ve been, many of my friends grew up relegated to what others, with no personal interest in them, had chosen for them.   They grew up with parents that got by on welfare, that rarely or never worked to create something for their family.   As sad as this is, for reasons such as killing the human spirit or being controlled by others through dependency on the state, it is still only a starting point, not a death sentence.

Most Americans have been raised to be “independent” (top of the pyramid), “dependent” (in the a pyramid), or worst of all, “dependent on the state” (dictated to and controlled by an unrelated, uninvested third party).

Getting around best selling author Tim Marks exposed me to a new way of seeing the world.   Not through a pyramid or win/lose thinking.   For the first time I understood there were win/win realities.   That you could “invest” time and not sell it; you could create “inter-dependent” relationships.   Where, I actually need you and you need me and together we are way more than the sum of our parts.

This is called “Replacement Driven Leadership” or “Legacy Driven Leadership.”   Purposefully investing in others to create a new future and making learning a discipline in your life are key parts to this kind of leadership.   Three specific shifts in thinking must occur to create a culture that moves beyond you.

1st: Learning to see others in their gifts and not through our limitations.

2nd: Identifying what makes them great and systemizing so it is a learnable, repeatable skill.

3rd: Passing ownership in someway.

First: In my Christian world view I would call it, “casting our sins upon others” when we see others in our limiting beliefs.   It is however human nature to assume if I do trust people it’s someone else’s fault if I’m incompetent or lazy.   I better ride others because people are flakes, etc.   A common statement I hear a lot is, “I don’t have people I can trust.”   So why do others have high trust relationships and incredible results?   Because they’ve learned how to extend, develop and build trust.   That comes from growing our own character and heart change.   Once we can see the genius and potential in others the world becomes unlimited through team work.

Second: Being good at something is not enough.   We have to identify why we are good something or we can’t teach it to others and leave a legacy behind us.   It is an art to discover why we are good at something.   This is such an important issue.   Jim Collins wrote Good to Great about companies that did not know why they were good at what they did and now all those companies are gone.   How the Mighty Fall, about the collapse of those same companies, by Jim Collins, has been in jest retitled, aptly, “Great to Gone“.

Third: Starbucks is a company that is on the edge of this issue of not knowing what makes them great.   The key to their operation is not the systemized way of making coffee or the hope to be our third favorite place to be.   It is their financial incentives that keep managers focused on hiring, training and promoting great people.   Starbucks has, on accident, created one of the best retention programs possible.   If they ever change it they will also go by the wayside.

So much of our time in the world goes into training our competition and our replacements with no long term financial gain.   Many times the people we train leave us and even take our customers.   What if everyone you ever trained you got paid, four or five percent of their productivity forever?   That is how 95% of the worlds wealth is created.   Invest time into others, systemize what they are good at and pass ownership.

Better Information changes Thinking and Better Thinking changes Results, Every Time!

Hope this finds You Well

Chris Mattis <><

10 comments on “Replacement Driven Leadership

  1. Bill Ascol says:

    Chris, thanks for this excellent evaluation of world class leaders and the keen application that we can all make in our own lives if we really want to experience “Replacement Driven Leadership.” I know that you are not simply a student of this leadership model, but you are a product and a teacher of it as well. I am so grateful for your ability to impart these things in such an understandable and digestible way. Your insertion of the “Pharaoh” into the discussion of “pyramids” will definitely be something I reference in future conversations about corporate America. Keep teaching and modeling, brother. We are listening and learning. from you.
    Bill Ascol

  2. Clint Fix says:

    Great article Chris! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Joshua Ascol says:

    Chris, I am amazed every time you speak on a subject just how clear and concise your teaching is. This is a great “reframing” of how we think about work and the legacy we are leaving. You are a constant inspiration to me and it’s easy to see that you have become a leader who is passing ownership and empowering others to do the same.

  4. Allen Knight says:

    Thanks for the great teaching Chris
    Realizing through the continuing education program that we have a
    choice to create our futures, irregardless of anything from our past
    is alowing me to create the life I always wanted.

  5. Red Clark says:

    Awesome, as always!
    You never fail to shift my perspective at least a little with your clear insight and I am grateful for the wisdom you impart.

  6. Stuart Colvin says:

    Chris, fantastic article, clear and understandable by us all! Find the example you want to be, learn from that person and then do what they do and we can all accomplish what is in our destiny.

  7. pappabigg says:

    Awesome article, Chris.

    Greg in Wichita,KS

  8. Kerri says:

    Thanks Chris, I could not articulate this as well as you just did! I will be sharing this with a few individuals I’ve meet recently who want to make sure their efforts are in something that will make a positive difference in this country.

    Keep your blog articles coming!


  9. Mike Stratman says:

    Wow! I have had the pleasure of watching you teach this and live it. I love the way you break down the three principles: 1st: Learning to see others in their gifts and not through our limitations. 2nd: Identifying what makes them great and systemizing so it is a learnable, repeatable skill. 3rd: Passing ownership in someway. Thanks for sharing and leading!

  10. Adam Rossman says:


    Thank you so much for coming to Madison, WI this past weekend and teaching these principles in such a clear way. And thank you for having so much fun with us when you did it. It was great to learn from you and Denae and we would love to have you back anytime!!!

    PS- The info you shared was exactly what I needed to hear, and this article was great reinforcement of what you taught in person

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