Leadership gurus have many opinions when it comes to the question, “What is a leadership legacy?” Those varying opinions all have two common threads, however. When it comes to building a true leadership legacy, individuals must be focused on their own strengths as leaders, but they must also focus their energy on developing future leaders.
If you’ve begun to think about your own legacy, ask yourself the following questions: When you inevitably exit the organization, are there people in place who can step into your role and carry on the mission and values that you’ve established among your team members? Are the people who work for you further along in their careers than when they started? Building a leadership legacy isn’t necessarily about creating innovative products and services like Google or Amazon. Rather, it is about developing an organization’s most important asset: human capital. In order to build your legacy, you must recognize the importance of achieving organizational goals through others working to their full potential which requires developing those who work with you and for you.
Aligning Your Strengths and Values With the Organization
You can only hope to build a strong leadership legacy when you work in an environment that aligns with your personal strengths, talents and values. In order to ensure this alignment, you must ask yourself a few questions. Legacy-driven thinking forces you to tackle these questions head-on. As you move through each day, evaluate each task in the following way:
- Is this project or task going to stretch and grow someone on my team?
- What feedback have I provided recently that may positively impact the person in the future?
- What team behaviors have changed for the positive?
- Is there someone else on my team (or another team) better suited to handle this and will it be a development opportunity for them?
- How will this decision or action impact my team next month? Next year?
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A legacy mode of thinking helps you keep your strengths aligned with the vision and mission of the organization and provide lasting positive impact on others. If you find you are focusing your energy on areas that don’t allow you to impact people in the organization, then something is out of alignment.
The Importance of Mentoring in Building a Leadership Legacy
If you hope to leave behind an organization that is stronger than the day you started, one of the most important steps to take is to mentor others. Identify young leaders on the team that have a high potential to move up in the organization. Take the time to mentor them. Share your experiences and knowledge with them and help them navigate through the organization. As a mentor, leaders should support these high-potential employees when there are opportunities for advancement. Encourage them to throw their hats into the ring when leadership positions open up, and advocate for them throughout their careers.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with mentoring, think about the people who mentored you throughout your own career. What advice did they provide you, and what steps did they take to make a lasting impact on you, as a leader? What do you wish those mentors had done differently? Use your personal experience to help shape the potential leaders that you see in your organization.
Building a leadership legacy requires you to focus on your strengths and how you can positively impact those around you so they are better prepared for the future. When you are able to strike a solid balance between nurturing talented future leaders and using your personal strengths to make an impact on the organization, you are taking the solid first steps towards building your leadership legacy.