Why It’s Never Too Early To Think About Your Leadership Legacy
Have you heard the one about the difference between a leader and a manager? A manager has people who work for them, and a leader has people follow them. A manager tells people what to do, a leader encourages people.
The words “leader” and “manager” are often used interchangeably, but they mean two entirely different things. When it comes down to it, manager is a job title, but leadership is a legacy – and it’s never too early to think about your leadership legacy.
Does looking forward to your “legacy” all sound a bit too existential to you? Consider it this way: your legacy is the grand sum of your reputation, and as we know, your reputation is often the first impression (or the only impression) you get to make on others.
You’d be hard pressed to find a successful leader who can’t point to any particular person or people who have helped steer their way with encouragement and advice. If you’ve been lucky enough to have some positive leaders in your life, they should come to mind – people who don’t just ask us to blindly follow their lead for their own gain, but who encourage you to live up to your potential.
You can cultivate a positive leadership legacy in many ways:
- Have an open door – when you create relationships with your employees, goals and ambitions are shared naturally. When people feel valued, productivity skyrockets.
- Be humble – as a leader it’s important to take charge, but letting people know who’s boss doesn’t mean dictating from up on your high horse.
- Start the mentorship ripple effect – sharing skills and expertise increases production, fosters community and allows people to work more cohesively. The responsibility is not all on your shoulders however, make waves by mentoring people who can then become mentors themselves.
When you work at one company for any significant amount of time, your own legacy becomes entwined with the legacy of that business. In organisations legacies are built in many small ways, handed down from employee to employee through processes, practices and even company values – the company “brand”, if you will.
What does being “on brand” mean for your business? What does it mean for you personally? They say a manager will uphold the status quo, but a leader will challenge it. Consider the legacies you are passing on. Are there processes that can be improved or updated to make your employees lives easier? Can you make your workplace happier and more productive?
Think back to the ripple effect of mentorship mentioned above – this applies in more ways than one. When you encourage the people you work with to trust each other and actively seek to make improvements, you foster an environment where people have the confidence to offer up solutions, and the drive to do great work. Just like a smile, positive leadership is contagious!