Just as companies continue to reinvent themselves, leaders will always continue to face defining moments. As those moments present themselves, some leaders will prove themselves risk adverse, preferring to observe and play it safe…while still others will accept the challenge and seek to make a significant and lasting difference – for their organizations and the people within. How you handle your defining moments will determine your legacy.
The sad truth is that most leaders do not think about their legacy until it is far too late. Commitment and planning are required – legacies do not happen by themselves. Organizational legacies are built over time and have a “living” quality. In other words, your legacy grows and evolves as you do. Legacy is your contribution, your value-add… Unlike an heirloom, your legacy must be digested and absorbed by others before it can be passed on. If you do not consider and plan for your legacy, you will probably still leave one – but it will most likely not be the legacy you had in mind!
A classic conundrum asks, “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Now, consider this question in an organizational context:
You walk out of your office each night…each month… each year. At the end of a brilliant career, having compiled a record of heroic successes, yet you leave no long-term impact on others – were you a real leader?
Legacy is meaning culled from reflection… and from interaction with others. Legacy is meaningless if not made intentional. You must ask yourself at the end of each and every day, “ What have I done to create an environment that will impact people’s lives and change my organization for the better?” Do you regularly think of others and how your legacy will impact those you will, sooner or later, leave behind? Do you think about the fact that leaving something meaningful behind for those who come later has significant professional and personal value?
As the questions imply, legacy is a crucial component of leadership – but often overlooked until it is much too late. Your legacy is established by leaving something of enduring quality behind for your organization and its’ people. You are only an effective leader if you strengthen others’ capacity to learn, to reflect and to extract meaning from their experience. People are hungry for authentic and transparent leadership. They not only want to support an authentic leadership voice, but they also want to be involved. More than ever, people want to be a part of something meaningful and purposeful. How are your daily actions creating an environment that is worthy of a legacy?
As leaders, we should all be actively pursuing our legacy all day, every day.
Your legacy is defined by how others approach work and life as a result of having been influenced by you. Consider taking these actions:
- Assess your current impact on those around you
- Identify 3 ways to strengthen your impact on your staff, colleagues and partners that will allow you to pass along the best of yourself in the process.
- Create an action plan and follow it!
- Track your progress in a journal on a weekly basis
- In three months time, distribute a short survey to assess your progress
- Continue the process
You should always be thinking about your legacy. It amounts to the sum total of the difference you make in the lives of others.
As a leader, it is your duty to define your legacy – people want you to establish it and to reveal it. Why? Because most people want to be led and your legacy is something they can grasp that should authentically represent who you are and what you stand for…. Because creating and sustaining a legacy will require you to focus on something bigger than yourself, while at the same time ensuring you are leaving something of yourself behind for others to benefit from. Don’t disappoint. Define your legacy and work every day to live up to it. It is your personal responsibility to do so as a leader. What will your legacy be? Does it represent who you really are?
Will You Consciously Craft Your Legacy Or Simply Leave It To Chance?
Please engage the discussion and let us know how you are creating a lasting legacy. Feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com , stop by our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com or check out our new leadership portal at The Global LABB.