Defining Your Leadership Legacy
Have you ever thought about your leadership legacy? In other posts, we discussed an important difference between good bosses and bad bosses. Good bosses believe right now is the right time to act – bad bosses wait for the “right” opportunity. Good bosses serve. Bad bosses want to be served.
A Leadership Legacy
This got me thinking about a leader’s legacy. All of us, regardless of our position or place in a company, leave a legacy. We all have extraordinary potential, it’s just a matter of whether we’re going to bring it out and leave it behind in a positive memorable positive way or or a milk toast manner or a negative destructive way. For example Nelson Mandela left a grand legacy of collaboration and forgiveness. On the other hand, Steve Job’s legacy is mixed. He was a passionate and brilliant business visionary but a horrible leader in how he treated others. What will be yours?
Let me rewind for one minute. Legacy can have a morbid connotation – we can think that legacies only linger after someone has died. But that’s not the case here – I’m talking about the aftermath of someone’s contributions. Employees can be promoted, leave a company, help people, change directions, treat people well or not, achieve a significant goal, or do several things that give their legacy certain enduring qualities. So again, what kind of legacy do you want to leave?
Good leaders know that right now is the right time. And the reason they do is because they know that first-class leadership has so much more to do with the big picture and other people than it does with them. They know that little things accumulate, they know that people matter, and they know that in the long run, the benefit of their contributions can last much longer if they make the most of what matters in the meantime.
John Maxwell says, “People will summarize your life in one sentence – pick it now.” I agree with this, and I also encourage you to pick a professional one-liner, too.
Are you wondering where to begin as you define the legacy you want to leave? Take your time and use these questions to generate ideas.
- When you’re at work, what do you do that makes time fly?
- What are your strengths? What do you need to improve?
- How do you think others experience you at work? How do you want to be viewed?
- What do you value most about yourself as a leader? What do others say?
- Consider, leaders you admire? Why do you admire them?
- What 3 words do you want to come to mind when others reflect on you as a leader?
In other words: Your team, your company and your peers will remember your contributions in one sentence – pick it now. Then make the needed changes so it becomes a reality for others and then you.
Pulling It All Together
It may seem trivial to take the time to define your leadership legacy, but you are creating one, nonetheless. You can’t take steps to become the leader you hope to be, if you don’t even know what that real leader looks like or are unwilling to change to get there. In summary, Dolly Parton said, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”
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