Leave a Lasting Leadership Legacy

In ancient times, shrines or temples were left behind to celebrate a monarch or ruler's legacy. The greater the leader was, the bigger the monument. In today's world, leaders endow libraries, develop patents, improve the quality of life for their employees or inspire a generation to leadership as their legacies. In fact, a corporate legacy has become a goal in its own right.

The Institute for Corporate productivity with HR.com conducted a "Leader Legacy Practitioner Consensus Survey" in September of 2007. CEOs were asked, "To what extent is your organization concerned about leaving a legacy or making things better as a result of its existence?" Over 68% of the 210 respondents rated high or very high their organizations' desires to leave a legacy. When asked individually the results were even stronger with 85% wishing to leave a professional legacy.

So what's a leadership legacy? How can a leader or an organization leave a lasting legacy? It seems there are five basic ways to influence or encourage a difference.

  • Demonstrate a firm commitment to an ideal even in the face of opposition. An example might be telling the customer the truth about a problem rather than covering up or avoiding the issue.

  • Make sure what the organization says and does are congruent. The company can't say it's committed to the environment but pollutes in practice.

  • Exert influence without asserting authority. A leader, like a parent, never wants to resort to the "because I said so" school of management. Avoid using the job's position to "order" things be done; instead build support through influence.

  • Stay active not passive; get involved in finding a solution rather than ignoring a problem or complaining about it.

  • Demonstrate vulnerability and transparency. If a mistake is made, admit it; this is a great time to use self-deprecating humor-laugh once in awhile.

  • Align actions so others interpret them correctly. If integrity is a leader's core value she must tell the truth, even when there is a risk associated with that. Otherwise her actions will be misinterpreted and her legacy lost.

The best leaders illustrate their values every day by actions, not just words. So in order to leave a lasting legacy a leader must demonstrate motives and values regardless of the setting or situation. It may not get a pyramid constructed but leaders that build legacies leave lasting gifts to their employees, corporations and the world at large.

Do you need Leadership Solutions to help you motivate others to get started on that pyramid??

Leaders in Coaching and Leadership Development

Donna Dennis
Telephone: 609-497-1997