What is Your Leadership Legacy?
Do you ever think about the legacy you are leaving as a leader? All leaders leave a legacy whether intentional or not. If you want to have a lasting impact and shape how you are remembered, there are a number of things you can do to create the legacy you want.
While results are important, people are even more so. One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you make people on your team feel valued and empowered, you are sure to leave a lasting impression and legacy. How? Read on.
Be a model for others. There are so many ways to be a role model. First, treat people how you want to be treated, and how you want them to treat others. Also, do what you say you will, and follow through on your commitments. While this isn’t always easy, it’s important. There of course times when you can’t see something through the way you promised. In that case be open and transparent as to what and why.
Create other leaders. John Maxwell says that the greatest legacy you can leave is creating other leaders. I agree and have seen a lot of examples of this with my clients. I do a lot of work in the financial services industry. Many agency leaders get all types of awards for things like sales, recruiting, and production improvement. But, the pinnacle of all awards is the one bestowed for developing other leaders. When the leader of an agency promotes someone out of their office to run a new one, it is most coveted award they can receive.
Creating other leaders takes investment in both time and budget. First let’s talk time. Take the time to have conversations with people about their goals and aspirations. Spend time coaching them, reinforcing their strengths, providing constructive feedback, and working through the obstacles and derailers that can hold them back . Devote time to identify opportunities for them to learn new skills, work with others around the organization, and share their own knowledge. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to take time to celebrate their successes.
As for budget, sometimes you need to spend money to help them develop and grow. In some of the companies I worked for, we were all given our own “budget” to spend on development. While any class or conference we attended had to be approved, the signal was that the company was willing to invest in us and most people took advantage of it.
Even if you do all of this, you might not know what impact you have had until many years later. In my last company role before branching out on my own, I had a great team of individuals working for me and I’ve kept in touch with many of them over the years. In a recent text exchange with one of them who I was congratulating on his new C-Suite role, he said to me, “Thank you Alexis. Please know you helped lay the foundation!” That’s a legacy I can live with.