Shaping Your Leadership Legacy

The success or failure of leaders are often measured with quantifiable metrics – stock price, shareholder value, revenue, expenses, sales, profit – to name a few. In a capitalistic system, focusing on results-based metrics are an important dimension to remaining a viable enterprise…

…but something seems to be missing.

While preparing for a presentation later this week called “Leadership in an Agile World”, I began thinking about the legacy leaders are leaving with their people. With much of the focus on short-term results, leaders are dramatically losing touch with their people at a human level. Survey after survey are screaming to leaders, “What may have worked in the past, is not working now!”

As Steve Denning states in a recent article in Forbes:

What we need is not better management of the same kind, but rather management of a different kind. Fortunately, we now know what this different kind of management comprises. It has different goals, different ways of organizing and coordinating work, different values and different ways of communicating from the way organizations were run in the 20th Century. It entails different ways of thinking, speaking and acting in the workplace.

By changing the way we think, speak, and act as leaders we will begin to design how we will be remembered as a leaders. The changes made today may seem small but they will begin to create the different kind of management so desperately needed and will continue to resonate to future generations of leaders.

Regardless of where you are in your leadership journey, from the recently promoted in a small company to the CEO of a large one – begin shaping your legacy by asking yourself these questions:

How diverse are your teams – especially your leadership teams? Is everyone just like you? We often hire and promote people who align to our own leadership style, our own management techniques, our own temperament, and sadly, within our own race and gender. Eventually, organizations become what many organizations are today – dysfunctional, fragile, and siloed – because leadership is not welcoming to fresh ideas and perspectives. Start with your next hire or promotion and begin to expand your thinking. Your legacy should be one of diversity and inclusion.

How frequently are past direct reports still in contact? True leaders are able to connect on a personal level. If people are not reaching out to you after they no longer report to you, you probably were not able to truly connect with them. Your legacy should be one built on lasting connection.

Are those you are mentoring making an impact on the world? The impact may be relatively small or the scope of their impact relatively minor but you should be inspiring those around you (and reporting to you) to change the world around them. Your legacy should be one built on positive and lasting influence.

This is just a start as I’m sure there are many other questions one could ask so I would love to hear other ways you are crafting your legacy as a leader. Please contribute by adding your thoughts below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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