New Year is upon us and like most smart business people, you are
probably taking inventory and making plans for the coming year.
Most of these actions focus on external items, like deciding on
how many widgets you are going to make and sell, or how many new
clients you hope to acquire by the end of the first quarter. While
this type of inventory and planning is necessary, it is important
as a business leader that you take time to inventory and plan
for your own development as a leader, and this involves both reflection
A good place to start is simply by
asking yourself the question: what do you want people to say about
your impact as a leader 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Or what would
you like your leadership legacy to be? Even better: write down
your responses to both of these questions. What comes out on paper
may surprise you.
Johnny Hart once noted that a legacy is "something that one
should be able to hand down, without having to trump up."
It is not a strategic plan that can be nicely quantified and measured.
Rather, it is the sum of all of the outcomes resulting from our
behavior that others continue to remember about us. That's the
key here - it's what others continue to remember about us, not
how we remember ourselves. Put another way, it is the cumulative
record of how others think we measure up to the person that we
had intended to be or that they expect us to be.
a moment to think of some of the current or former public or corporate
leaders that have been in the news during the past year: The Apprentice's,
Donald Trump; The Oprah Winfrey Show's, Oprah Winfrey; South Dakota's
former Senator, Tom Daschle; LA Laker's Guard, Kobe Bryant; Martha
Stewart Omnimedia, Martha Stewart; Secretary of State, Condolezzaa
Rice; and U.S. President, George W. Bush. For most of us, it is
probably very easy to articulate their leadership legacy - the
good, the bad, and the ugly.
what can you do as a leader to ensure that your legacy is the
one that you want to be remembered for? First, successful leaders
have a strong sense of their personal values beyond their business
values. They have a personal mission and vision for their life
as well as their business. And, as you probably guessed, the most
successful leaders are those who have found a way to combine the
Second, successful leaders have passion.
Find what you are passionate about in life and then find a way
to incorporate this into your life in some way every single day.
To me, passion can be defined as the current that propels us forward
to fulfill a purpose or a goal. It is often the source of the
creativity, energy, rejuvenation, and inspiration, that all leaders
rely on everyday in order to be effective. For me, that passion
revolves around helping others be successful leaders.
And finally, successful leaders take
time every day for personal reflection and renewal. Reflection
is critical because self-reflection is the greatest source that
we have for tapping into our own self-knowledge. And, it is by
tapping into our own self-knowledge that we grow both personally
and professionally, helping us to become the authentic leaders
we hope to be.
you hope to obtain greater self-knowledge, the only way to do
that is to find time for silence. In today's 24/7 media-bombarded
world, there are fewer and fewer opportunities that present themselves
naturally for reflection. That's why it is critical that you schedule
time for reflection as frequently as you can. Daily would be best
but weekly and monthly can work too.
don't always have control about what people will remember as your
leadership legacy. However, there are things that you can do to
ensure that you are remembered the way you want to be remembered.
Identifying what you would like your leadership legacy to be is
a good first step. Combine that with a strong sense of your personal
values and your passion, and, take time for personal reflection
and renewal, and you will be well on your way to achieving a lasting
legacy that you can be proud of.
Copyright 2005 Regina
Barr, Red Ladder, Inc.