I am amazed at how little time and focus many leaders spend thinking about their legacy and what they will pass forward to the organizations they lead and the people they serve.
Legacy is defined as a gift by will; something (tangible or intangible) transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor; a gift given from the past to the future…a bequest.
Legacy is built over a lifetime and is not limited by age or a specific amount of time. There are key foundational building blocks that define most successful legacy leaders. They work to accumulate the necessary knowledge required to lay a firm foundation beneath their feet and the feet of those they desire to influence. They gain wisdom by listening and learning from others who have walked the path before them. They look for innovative opportunities to grow within their sphere of influence, both in their workplace and family leadership roles. They understand legacy is grown through the experience gained while walking through the seasons of life. By observing the mindsets of these leaders we see clearly, legacy is strengthened not by the challenges of life, but by how they navigate through the challenges of life.
Some say legacy is more about how you end the journey than it is about how you begin the journey. In reality it is all about the experiences, events, actions, decisions, and challenges walked out in between. If you let it, every step you take on life’s journey, whether toward the summit or lost in a dessert for a time, will mold and shape you into a better version of yourself. Legacy leadership is a process, it is an intentional willingness to gain greater knowledge, wisdom and understanding so you will be in a position to impact and influence the lives of others.
Over the past thirty years coaching hundreds of high-octane leaders, whom I refer to as drivers I have identified five common mindsets. These mindsets have guided the trajectory of their success and influence.
1. They know who they are (Identity) and what they value.
Legacy Leaders understand their identity is not defined by the world’s standards. They are confident in who they are and in what and whom they believe. They have clearly defined values that influence their leadership, actions, thoughts, and beliefs. They also understand the value others bring to the table and they empower the gifts and skill-set of those within their organizations and circles of influence. They edify others around them by creating an environment conducive to achieving personal growth and lending collective values.
2. They understand the influence of servant leadership.
Legacy Leaders realize to have others follow they must truly become servant leaders. It begins by accepting the call God places on their life and the understanding they are a small piece in the wheel of their families or companies life. Their choices are focused on what is best for the family or company instead of what fulfills personal pleasure.
3. They are trustworthy and will not compromise their character
Legacy Leaders conduct their business and their homes from a position of trust. They are willing to make difficult decisions without compromising their character. The character traits they respect in others and desire to be known for they mirror in all walks of their life.
4. They care about the lives of those in their sphere of influence.
Legacy Leaders understand what inspires joy and growth in those who support their leadership. They are others focused. Throughout their leadership journey they continue to learn how to better serve others and genuinely support their career advancement and overall engagement.
5. They take responsibility for their decisions and welcome personal accountability.
Legacy Leaders are mindful of the opportunity and the responsibility they have to serve others. Their yes is yes and their no is no. They understand with responsibility comes accountability and step forth and accept blame instead of deferring to others. Respect instantly follows this leader, as others feel safe in giving, creating and following a leader who lives under the same rules and respects the same boundaries as everyone else.
Legacy Leaders who have maximum impact have identified the source from which all blessings flow, a God who loves unconditionally and is always a whisper away. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:11-13)
Legacy Leaders live out a mindset they can pass on to future generations. As a Legacy Leader, it is your responsibility to uphold the legacy and traditions of those who came before you – but equally as important you must hold yourself accountable to build upon those traditions to further strengthen the culture, human capital and your personal and family brand.
Guy Hatcher: The Legacy Guy® – is passionate about helping families plan their legacy. His book, Your Future Reflection: How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money, is available at amazon.com. Follow him on twitter @guyhatcher or contact him at www.guyhatcher.com
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com