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Your Turn: Leadership, Legacy and Napa's all-star leadership team
Your Turn

Your Turn: Leadership, Legacy and Napa's all-star leadership team

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Lives of the vines

These red grapes are going through veraison, changing color from green to dark purple.

My question to Napa County’s “All-Star” leadership team, is when you finally finish your job and are gazing into the sunset with your favorite glass of wine, what do you want your legacy to be?

Leadership can be defined as aligning your actions, words and behaviors to your motivation. When you apply motivation alignment to leadership it can deliver remarkable results.

Our personal motivation gives purpose and meaning to our lives. When applied consistently in business, your motivation comes to life in tangible results that can make a powerful impact on employees, clients, shareholders and to customers. The imprint our motivation leaves on the world, on people, on organizations, is our legacy.

Motivation is the aim that guides action; Legacy is the mark that action leaves. And just as intention is a wine best served with deliberate purpose, so should legacy be aligned with purpose and a personal vision. When this happens, personal vision and leadership, aligned with motivation, leaves a legacy.

Napa and its leadership may be heading in the wrong direction. Napa’s leadership has always had long-range vision, plans, etc. but my perception, they were not aligned with a shared vision across their personal legacies. They are aligned with day-to-day working politics, operations, meetings, commissions, etc.

This results in Napa’s leadership functioning like an “All-Star” team. Each leader represents a different team, but for meetings they put on the same (team) jersey, but it comes off afterwards. Meaning that if current events, activities, meetings, votes, reviews, etc. fit into their vision or personal legacy, they are all in.

However, when those events are not aligned to their personal legacy (if they have one) this has had some unintended consequences.

For example, Save the Family Farms is a group of owner-occupied Napa Valley grapegrowers who produce wine using off-site production facilities in Napa County. Current Napa County regulations prohibit us from having tastings and sales on our properties. This is having a severe impact on Napa’s small family farms and vineyards—arguably the heart and soul of Napa Valley are on the decline. Data trends suggest that over 200 small family vineyards have either gone out of business or sold to investors in the last decade as a result of a set of regulations designed for corporate-based wineries.

For family farms to survive in a winemaking industry increasingly dominated by absentee-owners, Napa County must acknowledge small family farms’ historical, cultural, and winemaking legacy.

We seek to create a new avenue for local growers to participate in limited tastings and “direct to consumer” utilizing 75 percent estate and 100 percent Napa-sourced fruit. We do not want to change the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO) and are not asking for a permit to make wine. Our objective is to help with creation of a “policy” that provides small family farms a realistic road to compliance.

The next 5-10 years are critically important as none of us want to leave a legacy that helped Napa became another Disneyland. However, with the current “go big or go home” regulations it delivers a set of unintended consequences — and that is where we are headed?

My question to Napa County’s “All-Star” leadership team, is when you finally finish your job and are gazing into the sunset with your favorite glass of wine, what do you want your legacy to be? Disneyland or saving small family farms?

George O’Meara of Napa is the author of “Collaborative Leadership: Lessons from the Street to the Boardroom.” This first appeared on the Save the Family Farms blog.

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