27 September 2023

Lead the way: Are you building a leadership legacy?

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Sonia McDonald* says the best leaders leave a legacy with their organisations that lives on long after they have gone.

As leaders, it’s not just your words that affect those around you.

You have to walk the walk, as the saying goes.

This means that your actions, all of them, are directly impacting your co-workers, your organisation, and your leadership style.

There are certain things that all great leaders do that have a major impact and make a difference in the lives of their employees and others that they interact with.

While you might fancy yourself as a ‘good’ leader, you shouldn’t be content with this.

If you want to be a great leader, which any leader should be striving to be, you should be consciously doing these things daily until they become second nature.

To have a valuable impact on your team, you should be doing these four actions.

So, it’s time to sit down and reflect.

Ask yourself if you’re truly doing these actions every day, and if not, how you can incorporate them into your daily routine.

Do things differently.

How are you setting yourself apart from other leaders?

Are you a ‘traditional’, predictable leader, or are you challenging perceptions?

To truly make an impact, you must be confident enough in your own abilities to step back and encourage and support others to grow.

When was the last time a leader did that for you — and how did it make you feel?

Always use failure as a learning opportunity.

While you should already be doing this on your personal leadership journey, do you encourage your team to do the same?

Are you teaching them how to find the lessons when things don’t work out?

By doing so, you’re ensuring your team learns to effectively handle failure, and grow from it, too.

Failing isn’t the end of the world, so ensure you demonstrate that to your team when the opportunity arises.

Show your team how much you value them.

Do you work harder when you feel valued? Of course, you do, and it’s no different for your team.

A leader that sticks out in your mind is more than likely one who made you feel appreciated.

To have the same impact on your staff, you need to be conscious of showing your gratitude when they put in the effort.

No one wants to feel taken advantage of, or taken for granted; this is how staff retention rates rise, so keep your top talent by showing them how much they’re valued.

Build your leadership legacy.

A leadership legacy is what you as a leader leave behind when you’re gone.

Acting with this in mind every day ensures you have a lasting impact on your team, and your organisation as a whole.

When you do things for the greater good, not for your own personal gain or recognition, you’re leading with respect and building a significant legacy.

A legacy grows even after you’ve left because those affected by it are determined to keep it going.

That’s why it’s different to ‘making your mark’; a legacy lasts much longer.

It changes the way the organisation does things and becomes ingrained in its history and culture.

Look at Martin Luther King Jr. for example.

His legacy lives on and will continue to do so, because of his selfless leadership.

He made a mark on the world that grew into the legacy we know today, due to his dedication to doing things for the right reasons.

What leadership legacy do you want to leave behind? What actions can you take to work towards it?

Be honest with yourself — can you really say that you, as a leader, are doing these four things every day?

After all, what is the point of being a leader if you aren’t going to make a difference and truly lead?

Great leaders harness their potential, never stop learning, and always challenge themselves to do better — not just for themselves, but for their teams as well.

How are you going to start doing leadership differently?

*Sonia McDonald is the Chief Executive and founder of Brisbane-based LeadershipHQ. She can be contacted at soniamcdonald.com.au.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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