You Have the Power to Leave an Inspiring Leadership Legacy
This statement is my personal mantra and the words that I seek to live by. As a leader, I realize that my leadership legacy is the sum total of the difference I make in the lives of the people I encounter every day. My impact may be indirect or direct, long lasting, or short lived. But, nonetheless, I understand the impact is important becaue the lives of those I touch, those I lead, will be forever changed because of our encounter.
People within your sphere of influence are watching your every move. They are learning from you, being changed by your actions, and inspired by your accomplishments. This is both an extraordinary opportunity and responsibility.
I do not dare go astray, for fear they’ll go the same self way.
I cannot once escape their eyes, for what they see me do they try.
Like me one day they say they’ll be, the future leader who follows me.
So I must remember as I go, through exhilarating highs
and discouraging lows.
That I am building for all to see, the future leader who follows me.”
The opportunity to see yourself as a dream broker is one of the greatest rewards of leadership. As a leader, your success and ultimately the leadership legacy you build will be based on how good you become at brokering dreams. In order to become a dream broker, you must first understand the dreams, goals, talents, and gifts of the people you lead and the people within your sphere of influence. By doing so, you help others find their own path to success and you help your team members find their fit within the organization; therefore, they, too, are empowered to reach their highest potential.
Leaders who shout directives instead of providing direction gain little respect from those who follow them. Leaders who shout, “You matter!” gain more than a follower – they gain a partner on their journey towards success. The late Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, once posed a series of questions to help people reflect on the truly important things in life. The exercise is a powerful one, so I’d like to pose these same questions to you:
- Step 1: Can you remember the names of the last five winners of:
- The Heisman Trophy?
- The Miss America Pageant?
- The Academy Award for best actor or actress?
- Step 2: Now, can you remember the names of five:
- People whose stories most inspired you?
- Teachers who most influenced you?
- Friends who have help you most?
Most people can only recall a few of the answers for step 1, even though the individuals have all been household names at one time. But when asked the questions in step 2, Schultz found that people could quickly name the people who have most impacted their lives. These individuals quickly come to mind because they once encouraged, inspired, motivated, trusted, or believed in us. They have served as coach, leader, guide, and partner on our personal or professional journey.
What leadership legacy will you leave behind? Who will remember the contributions you have made? Whose life will be saved, transformed, inspired, or changed because you have lived? Your decision to intentionally create a leadership legacy will positively impact others now and for future generations.
Authors Brooks, Caverhill and Stark in their book, Your Leadership Legacy: The Difference You Make in People’s Lives say leaders who create a positive legacy dare to do three important things:
- Dare to be a Person not a Position—they are not confined by the title of their position and they realize that by living their values and behaving authentically they will have a much greater impact on others.
- Dare to Connect—they realize that they must foster emotional connections and mutual trust in order for people to thrive.
- Dare to Drive the Dream—they turn dreams into a future that people want to live in. They understand that their actions have the power to transform the organization. They dare to create a path that people will want to stand on and follow.
You leave a legacy whether you are trying to or not. A positive leadership legacy doesn’t just happen, so make sure you’re intentional about the legacy you’ll leave behind.