What is your leadership legacy?

Are you leading for high performance?

Leadership legacy is an easy phrase to throw around. We logically understand what it means yet putting it into practice can be more challenging than we can imagine. In our work across organisations and teams, we see the need for leaders to consider the legacy they are building and the culture it creates in their organisation. The statement by Simon Sinek[1] “the leader sets the tone” stands out as the heartbeat to legacy and high performance.

Leaders do not have to be managers. We have seen people rise as leads from front-line individuals (receptionists, salespeople, operation coordinators, finance etc.) through to managers, those who take on the remit of leading. Leadership is where you support and encourage others to grow, feel enabled, solve problems and engage business results. Leadership is not the title of “manager”. John Maxwell[2] speaks about leadership and management in the context of engaging others. “Nothing is wrong with having a leadership passion. Everything is wrong with using position to get people to follow you”.  You can lead from your position, you can impact others, inspire them to follow you and leave a positive legacy. Being a “manager” is not the prerequisite for leadership.

If you have “manager” in your title, your responsibility is much greater than simply managing a process. Your remit is to deliver results through people. Your challenge will be to remember that people choose to follow the leader. That when you are credible and they trust you, you’ll be able to coach, challenge and create stretch for your people and the organisation’s growth. Ask yourself these questions: Will your people choose to follow you? Can you balance leading and managing? Do you leave a legacy that provokes fear, resentment and servitude? Do your people clock-watch, feel burnt out, waste time or fight amongst themselves? Are productivity and the results you achieve just enough (if that)? Or do you choose to leave a legacy that transforms people and organisations and inspires others to lead and take ownership of their world? This positive legacy creates results, ownership, teamwork and delivers exceptional results.

Ask yourself these questions:

Will your people choose to follow you? Can you balance leading and managing?

Do you leave a legacy that provokes fear, resentment and servitude? Do your people clock-watch, feel burnt out, waste time or fight amongst themselves? Are productivity and the results you achieve just enough (if that)?

Or do you choose to leave a legacy that transforms people and organisations and inspires others to lead and take ownership of their world? This positive legacy creates results, ownership, teamwork and delivers exceptional results.

2 tips to positive leadership legacy

To help you consider how to increase a positive legacy, consider these two focus areas to help you create a team and environment that is inspirational to work in and unlocks potential and results.

1. Measure your impact.

It starts with you and your heartbeat as the leader. When we don’t measure our impact, we can be driven by our personal need to succeed. The key drivers that have formed us can often impact our interaction with our people. We have worked with leaders who are so determined to be successful they forget the key to success is engaging the hearts and minds of their people. They fail to measure their impact and make excuses for the fear they stir up in their team and organisation. They blame others, set unrealistic expectations and don’t take accountability for their impact (as researched by Dr Brené Brown[3]).

How to measure impact:

Spend time at the end of your day or week reflecting on how you have lead (not simply managed). If you have spent more time managing process, task and controls, you have possibly not spent enough time allowing your people to deliver their best and worked to inspire them to take ownership of their world. You might have even micromanaged their efforts to help you feel in control of delivering results. Leaders, if this is you, consider ways to work through your own anxiety (get a coach, spend time considering your fears and vulnerabilities that impact others. Take action). Learn how to seek feedback, consider and practice how to modify your behaviour based on the feedback provided. Feedback is a perspective of someone else’s truth. If you seek feedback and find a consistent “truth” then the feedback must be heard and acted on.

Only you can choose to measure your impact and hear feedback that might not always be good. You choose to act on the feedback as a measure of opportunity versus a highlight of your failure. If you react to your opportunities as “failures” you will find it hard to hear and grow. Measurement is a vulnerable choice, one that will ensure your impact weighs on the positive. Remember “what gets measured gets done”.

2. Be authentic. It will unlock vision and purpose and create your following.

These are separate concepts, yet together form a really clear message for positive leadership legacy. Authenticity is the place to start. Old school management was to make sure you were the authority over your people and by showing you were human would be to show you were weak. New thinking is that authenticity is critical in creating a connection with others and is clearly linked to inspiration, vision, and purpose. How much courage does it take to allow others to truly see you?

We often use the Johari-window[4] in our coaching, leader and team sessions when we speak about vulnerability and connection. Only when we feel comfortable with our vulnerabilities and challenge the insecurities that make us feel “not good enough”, are we are able to show our people our hearts. We can then openly discuss our concerns, passions, and ideas for the future. Our vision and purpose are clearer as we are no longer clouded by our fears of being relevant or focussing on hiding our imperfections.

How to be authentic:

Being authentic is a vulnerable choice. You will have to consider the elements that make up the person you are. You will need to work on owning excruciating vulnerabilities (for example shame and fear) that challenge your ability to be openly authentic. You will have to consider how you can look past your own needs to feel relevant and focus on how you and your team can be purposeful and impact on those you serve. Allow yourself to develop and own a purpose that is beyond your own need to succeed. In turn, this will help you communicate a vision and purpose to inspire your people to follow you. Being authentic means you will be connected to your people and your world. You will no longer operate in fear and shame as a form of protection. You will operate in abundance and solutions. The lift this creates for you and your people creates the legacy of leadership that will, without doubt, inspire others to do the same.

Again we pose the question; what leadership legacy will you choose to leave? Being the best leader you can take courage, vulnerability and great amounts of reflection. This conduct will lead to positive impacts and actions.

Consider this quote from Maya Angelou[5]. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Our challenge to you:

 

[1] Simon Sinek is a British/American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant.
[2] John Maxwell is an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written many books, primarily focusing on leadership.
[3] Dr Brené Brown is an American scholar, author, public speaker and a Dr of Philosophy in Social Work. Her research focuses on authentic leadership.
[4] The Johari Window was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness.
[5] Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

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