“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” ~ Maya Angelou
Your leadership legacy is the impact and influence you have on others over your tenure as a leader and it is formed by the guiding principles you apply most consistently to your decisions and actions.
As you are reading this you may be thinking, “I’m not old enough to be thinking about my legacy.” or “It’s too early in my career for my legacy to matter.” When I’m asked about the best timing for a leader to begin considering their legacy, I say, “Now! It makes you a better leader today.” In the words of Rob Galford and Regina Maruca, “When top managers leave in their wake strong companies and individuals who can perpetuate that strength in a positive and healthy way, the result is both leadership and legacy at their best.”
It is never too early to consider the long-term impact you will have on your organization, team, community, and others you are in a position to influence. We leave a legacy daily (whether we realize it or not). If you are a leader, your legacy will be revealed in how your colleagues, employees and others think and behave as a result of the time they have spent working with you.
When you are intentional about your leadership legacy, it will greatly increase the likelihood of leaving a legacy that reflects your highest and best self. Being intentional about your legacy creates a catalyst for action rather than an outcome that is not considered until after your leadership tenure is over. Do not wait for the perfect time to get clear about the impact you want to create. None of us knows when a major life event will dramatically change the trajectory of our career. Now is the time to step back and give serious consideration to whether you are leaving something of enduring quality behind you.
Here are 3 ways to get connected to your leadership legacy and start living it.
- Reflect. What legacies have you received from others? Consider the various constituencies who are probable recipients of your legacy: Successors, employees, colleagues, industry peers, community, etc. Describe what you think your leadership legacy might be (now, not in the future). Then, ask three mentors or trusted advisors what they think your legacy is now. What was affirmed? What surprised you? What did you learn?
- Aspire. Setting aside self-doubt and dwelling in possibility, write your legacy manifesto. A manifesto is a declaration of your intentions and should include the characteristics you want to be remembered for, what you have learned that you would like to pass on, what remains to be accomplished, and what might get in your way of realizing what is possible. Then, circle back with your three mentors or trusted advisors and get feedback. Incorporate that feedback and refine your declaration. When you feel a sense of pride, connection and unlimited possibility, you will know you have landed on the legacy vision that is distinct to you.
- Become. Use your legacy manifesto as a guidepost. Carefully consider how you are currently spending your finite time and energy. What percent of time are you currently devoting to actions that are bringing your legacy to life today? What adjustments to your priorities will further enable you to play your bigger game? Legacies are not the result of wishful thinking. They are the result of determined doing. Your daily actions and interactions with others will tell your story.
Finally, sustain… to sustain your intended legacy, you must have the focus and determination necessary to overcome distractions, disruptions and doubt. Pause often and revisit your legacy manifesto to ensure you stay connected and committed to your declaration. Enrolling allies that will offer encouragement and provide accountability is useful as you are bringing your legacy to life.
Legacy-minded leaders ensure a better future by creating something that outlasts them and enabling the legacies of others. Legacy is a valuable gift to give, but is only possible when leaders are aware of the powerful legacies they have to offer.
Grow with purpose.
Emily Rogers is an executive coach, business consultant and retreat facilitator. She strategically advises and supports organizations and individuals in growing and realizing their full potential in purposeful and balanced ways. You can connect with her at www.emilyrogers.com.