What Leadership Legacy Will You Leave?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

What kind of leadership legacy will you leave? It’s a powerful question that we don’t often stop to think about. Here are some questions to reflect on to assess your legacy, as it stands now, and determine if that’s the “message in a bottle” that you want to leave for future generations.

  1. Who have I helped? — lifting up, supporting, championing, assisting
  2. How did my support change their lives? — inspiring, including, helping develop new skills, mentoring, teaching
  3. How did they change the lives of others? — showing kindness, supporting, assisting
  4. What work have I done that enables others to do better and more impactful work? — mentoring, volunteering, teaching, encouraging people to take on new challenges
  5. How have I grown, showing the way for others to learn and grow? — willingness to be authentic and imperfect, showing humility, always learning
  6. How have I left an organization operating better than when I joined it? — improving trust, transforming leadership or customer focus, streamlining systems
  7. How have I helped others stretch outside of their comfort zones to achieve more? — communicating opportunities, nudging people to stretch and grow
  8. How have I been kind and caring? — showing human concern, acts of kindness, quickly responding to concerns
  9. How have I listened when you were busy? — listening deeply, reflecting back what was heard, asking follow-up question to understand, acting on input
  10. How have I questioned and clarified information to help others find out what’s true and what really matters? — seeking the truth, vetting information sources, gathering data broadly, sense-making, meaning-finding

The best time to think about our legacy is not when we’re near retirement, or when things slow down. It’s right now.

“Live so your children can tell their children that you not only stood for something wonderful – you acted on it.”

—Dan Zadra

It’s not just our noble accomplishments – It’s also the small positive things we do when we’re busy and don’t really have time to do them that define our legacy.

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