The first step to answering that question is knowing what exactly a legacy is, and how you can leave one behind. A Leadership Legacy.
A legacy is the mark you’ve made on life, that continues to grow and influence others even after you’ve passed on. It means you’ve contributed something to the world that will carry on through future generations. Many people sum it up as simply meaning, “I mattered.”
Now, you might think that this only refers to the last stage of your life, but your legacy can actually be built every day. That’s why you have to make each day count; you never know who you’ll influence or inspire, and they are the ones who help your legacy live on.
Being conscious of the fact that not all legacies are positive, and that yours could be growing even without your input, is key to creating the legacy you want. If you aren’t sure what yours should be, reflect on these questions and be honest with yourself in your answers:
What am I contributing to the world?
What do I want to contribute?
What do I want people to remember me for?
How do I want people to remember me?
You can apply these questions to your leadership as well, to help clarify the legacy you want to leave behind in that area of your life. Think of your company in the future; how do you want people to talk about your leadership after you’re gone? What inspiring stories will they tell about the leader that you were?
If you want to, think larger than just your company or even your industry; think about what you want to give to the world as well. Do you want people to ask, “What would [your name] have done in this situation?” and then follow through with actions you would have taken? Your vision for your leadership legacy is large-scale, or simply to have made even a small difference in peoples’ lives. There are no wrong answers!
So, how do you go about building your leadership legacy? Here are three ways you can begin to carve out your legacy as a great leader.
Focus on your character, not your reputation
When we think of great leaders, we think of those who display a strong sense of self and stay true to who they are. To leave a leadership legacy that makes an impact, make sure you’re always acting in a way that aligns with your true character. Even if others may not think the best of you, you will win over those who matter by having integrity.
Be prepared to make the tough decisions, as long as they’re the right things to do
Everything in life comes down to choices, and it’s important to choose what you believe is the right course of action, even if it’s difficult. You won’t always get it right, but finding the lessons in failures is just as important to your leadership legacy.
Always behave honestly, kindly, respectfully and authentically
How you behave has a huge impact on the way you and your leadership will be remembered. Were you kind? Were you honest and respectful? Did you lead in alignment with your values? And did you do all these things consistently, because that’s genuinely who you were as a person? The legacy you leave behind heavily depends on these factors.
The content of your character, the choices you make and the way you consistently behave all contribute to the growth of your leadership legacy. Once you’re clear on just what you want your legacy to be, you can begin to work on building it.
I know I want my leadership legacy to be one that inspires not just leaders, but any person, to be kind, courageous and authentic. I want to leave behind a world without bullying; a world I helped create. I want people to talk of my work for years to come, and inspire them to greatness.
What do you want your leadership legacy to be?
Find out more about how you can be a Great Leader today.
About Sonia McDonald
Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humour will enhance any event she appears.
1. Leadership Attitude
2. Just Rock It
3. Leadership for Small Business
4. Leading the Next Generations
5. Courageous Leadership
6. Future Leaders of Leadership
7. New Kindness of Leadership
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