One of the issues that is rarely talked about by those in leadership positions is their leadership legacy. A leadership legacy is personal to each individual. It is the way she or he would like to be thought of after they have left the position.
Most people do not have a specific idea of how they want to be remembered, particularly in their early years of employment. However, as retirement approaches, most leaders think about how their impact on the business will be reflected in the future. Will they be seen as a good person to work for, an innovator, a compassionate and understanding leader, or as a problem in the workplace?
When to Start
It is never too early to start thinking about your leadership legacy. In thinking of the legacy you want to leave, having a personal development plan and mission statement helps to achieve that vision. It also helps to focus on more than just the bottom line for a company and keep leaders focused on the people that make that bottom line happen.
A great exercise to do if you are starting out in a leadership position is to list all the characteristics of great leaders you have worked for in the past. Be specific and write down what they did that made them great people who you look up to today. On the list you will find the characteristics you want to embody as part of your leadership legacy.
Then, make a list of the characteristics and behaviors of the bad bosses in your life. Take the time and write down what they did that created challenges, demotivated you to do more than what was required, or even specific things that may have resulted in you leaving a job or a company. These are the behaviors or attitudes you want to remove from your leadership style.
Making Steps Forward
Even the most successful leaders have made mistakes and continuously evaluate how they are interacting with others, responding to conflict, or adjusting to change. The key in developing a leadership legacy is to determine when you are straying from your legacy path and entering into the “bad bosses” behavior list.
One of the most effective ways to assess and evaluate your leadership legacy and to develop an effective personal and professional growth plan is to work with a leadership coach. A leadership coach provides confidential, one-on-one feedback, support, and accountability to help leaders develop the legacy they want to leave behind.