HomeLeadershipDon’t wait until the end of your career to leave a leadership legacy

Don’t wait until the end of your career to leave a leadership legacy

  • 4 Min Read

We’ve all heard the old adage touting the importance of leaders to “walk the talk.” The term is overused and definitely under-delivered. However, “living your leadership legacy” is a notion that leaders should consider equally important. And that means right now, rather than when you have left your organisation (or indeed the planet).

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“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.” – Dolly Parton

Ultimately reputation is what people say about you. Legacy on the other hand what people remember about you. It’s about the difference you make on those around you, intentional and unintentional.

You don’t need to wait until the end of your career to leave the legacy you deserve – you can manage it from the beginning.

Four areas of leadership

Marian Anderson “Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.”

Often, we think about leadership like it’s something that comes from ourselves – something we do to others – but the idea is turned on its head when you think about who is affected by your leadership

Ultimately leaders can make results and live a lasting legacy now, through their unique mix of attention and preferences in four areas:

  • Results leadership:

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” Peter Drucker.

Results leadership focuses on the task, prioritizes and keeps on moving. It objectively sustains commitment and consistently achieves results

  • Relationship Leadership

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Relational leadership sees the potential in others, cultivates collaboration, enables potential of others and creates community. Jack Welch.

  • Visionary Leadership

“I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” Walt Disney.

Visionary Leadership looks outward, sees possibilities where others see challenge, engages others and takes visible action, in spite of the consequences

  • Centred leadership

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection.  From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

Centered leadership is self-aware of values, motivations and aspirations and impact. It is self-assured enough to learn from past experience. It is alert to the present.

It is important to understand that no combination of these leadership styles is right or wrong – everyone leader has an element of each. At the end of the day, leaving a legacy is hugely personal. However, it is useful to think about the time you currently spend in each of these leadership areas, then think about the time you would like to spend in each.

Perhaps you want to build a stronger community but are aware at the moment that only a small amount of your time is spent in the area of relationship building, with a large part devoted to delivering results at all costs.

What else are you spending too much time on that isn’t aligned with what you would like to be known for and what are you neglecting?

Tough questions

The following questions need authentic answers to align your leadership legacy with what you want to be known for:

  • Why are you doing what you’re doing in your career?
  • What will make it worthwhile a thing for you and for others?
  • What would you like to see happen next in your career?
  • How might you make this next chapter in your journey, a reality?
  • What do you need to embrace or let go of to make that happen?
  • What new conversations will you need to have and with whom?

No matter what you want to change, the goals must be individualised to your style and what you want to be known for.

Make time for personal development every day

The important thing is that as leaders move through their careers, they must make time for their own personal development. Leaders who want to live their legacy must identify the type of impact they’ve had so far, the kind of impact they want to have when they leave their careers, and what they need to do differently on a daily basis to achieve that goal.

Every day poses a new opportunity for leaders to make a conscious effort to connect who they are, how they lead and what their legacy is and will be. Building leadership legacy is a life’s work, implemented daily.

So, what will you be remembered for?

Doug Upchurch, Insights Learning and Development

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