Leaders, What is your Legacy?

Leaders get to be leaders by rising to the top — solving problems, taking charge, conquering the obstacles. In organizations, these opportunities are moment by moment. And while these matters may consume a leader’s time and attention, they distract from the most important role a leader has – to care for, develop, and positively impact other human beings. And not just in the workplace.

During a conversation I had with a successful business owner, she told me that she considered her leadership role a “noble calling”. I probed this a bit further. She said that equipping her team members – not just for the job, but helping them through life, was her bigger purpose. It transcended the management of the balance sheet and would likely be more lasting.

What a positive way to look at leadership. This is probably not the average leader’s perspective, but what if it was?

What if the most important role of leaders was positively impacting the lives of others, and not just in the workplace? Would this change our behavior? Would it change where we spend our time? What we focus on?

Stop for a minute and think about these questions:

  • If tomorrow was your last day on earth, what would others say about you as a leader?
  • What would you want them to say?

Likely they will not remember the amazing strategic plan or the way you helped the team manage the budget or the impressive project management skills you demonstrated. Rather, people will remember how you made them feel. They will remember the ways you impacted their lives because of the investment you made in them.

So when thinking about your legacy, consider where you are spending your time.

At the end of your week, have you spent most of your time solving problems, directing activities, and managing people or teams? If so, take a pause. What is the return on this investment? Was the return benefitting you or others?

How you think about the bigger purpose of leadership can change the way you implement the hours in your day. It can change how you think about your words and your actions. It can help you decide what meetings to accept, what tasks to delegate, what phone calls to take.  It will allow you to maintain a healthy perspective on workplace “problems” and let go of the trivial (and let’s be honest, there is a lot of trivial). Moreover, you can be an example for others to follow.

Thinking about leadership as a “noble calling” can not only transform how you implement your job, it can have a broader impact on the world.

What is your leadership legacy?