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Leaving a Leadership Legacy

Whom have you taken the torch from? What difference will you make? Whose leadership legacy lives in you today?

Leadership is not solely about results but how you motivate others to achieve those results. Your leadership success is measured in numbers, and with those you lead and making a significant impact in their environment, making it a better place for them today. A measure of your success as a leader will not only impact the bottom line but also the long-term development of individuals in your organization and their ability to adapt, grow, and prosper, leaving your legacy for others to carry forward.


If you chose to take on leadership responsibility, thinking it would be easy, you may need to re-evaluate your willingness to see beyond your needs. To be a leader, you must choose to do the hard work, demonstrating you are not in it for yourself and sending the message you have the best interests of others at the forefront of your actions.

Building a leadership legacy is leading the development of others, planting seeds of greatness, and cultivating them to grow.

Tip: Cultivate others and build your leadership legacy by:

  • Providing opportunities for others to develop through challenging and growing experiences.

  • Allowing a strong direct report to be in charge and make decisions while learning from their successes and failures.

  • Cultivating the abilities and strengths of your direct reports for them to develop. Talk to them, get to know them and determine if they want to grow and take on a leadership role.

  • Maximizing your efforts of developing others through the use of targeted experiences.

  • While you focus your efforts on the development of others, you must continue to be a coach, a mentor, and a catalyst for their growth.

  • As a leader, pass the torch for others to carry forward.

  • Guide your people without taking away their responsibility and power over their learning.

  • Create a learning partnership by providing support and feedback.

  • Help to remove obstacles and inspire your people to test their abilities.


Now, we all want to be remembered for something. The question remains: What is that something? If your development efforts are done right, your organization's long-term impact will be priceless. Your organization can and will endure regardless of how turbulent your industry, economy, or globe becomes. How? By choosing to be a catalyst, a leader to leave a legacy.

Tip: To be a catalyst leader:

  • Bring out the best in your people, plant seeds of greatness, and care for and cultivate the leadership in others.

  • Lead with emotional intelligence, influence others through personal power, and create an environment of developing others.

  • Trust their decision-making and provide support.


Within your organization, your leadership legacy is built moment-by-moment and will influence the future of the people you lead. Leaving behind a leadership legacy is one of the most critical factors for the sustainability of Your organization. Capital can be acquired, but leadership must be developed, cultivated, and passed on.

It takes courage to build a leadership legacy. It takes courage to lead and influence with personal power, and in doing so, you will have a far more significant impact than anything you can achieve through strength of position.

Tip: To lead with personal power:

  • Choose and define your leadership imperatives and conduct yourself accordingly.

  • Choose your leadership values and live them by being authentic, genuine, and honest.

  • Choose to inspire loyalty and trust by creating personal and emotional connections.

Consider some questions first posed by the late Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Schultz's questions helped people reflect on the essential things in life. Schultz asked people if they could name the last five winners of:

  • The Heisman Trophy?

  • The Miss America contest?

  • The Academy award for best actor or actress?

For most people, remembering just a few of these past award winners was a challenge—even though each of these award winners had been popular names at one time.

Schultz would then ask people a second question:

What are the names of the five:

  • People whose stories most inspired you?

  • Teachers who most influenced you?

  • Friends who have helped you most?

Think about it: Leaders leave their fingerprints behind. Who will you pass the torch to? How will your legacy live?

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