The first step to answering that question is knowing what exactly a legacy is, and how you can leave one behind. A Leadership Legacy.
A legacy is the mark you’ve made on life, that continues to grow and influence others even after you’ve passed on. It means you’ve contributed something to the world that will carry on through future generations. Many people sum it up as simply meaning, “I mattered.”
Now, you might think that this only refers to the last stage of your life, but your legacy can actually be built every day. That’s why you have to make each day count; you never know who you’ll influence or inspire, and they are the ones who help your legacy live on.
Being conscious of the fact that not all legacies are positive, and that yours could be growing even without your input, is key to creating the legacy you want. If you aren’t sure what yours should be, reflect on these questions and be honest with yourself in your answers:
What am I contributing to the world?
What do I want to contribute?
What do I want people to remember me for?
How do I want people to remember me?
You can apply these questions to your leadership as well, to help clarify the legacy you want to leave behind in that area of your life. Think of your company in the future; how do you want people to talk about your leadership after you’re gone? What inspiring stories will they tell about the leader that you were?
If you want to, think larger than just your company or even your industry; think about what you want to give to the world as well. Do you want people to ask, “What would [your name] have done in this situation?” and then follow through with actions you would have taken? Your vision for your leadership legacy is large-scale, or simply to have made even a small difference in peoples’ lives. There are no wrong answers!
So, how do you go about building your leadership legacy? Here are three ways you can begin to carve out your legacy as a great leader.
Focus On Your Character, Not Your Reputation
When we think of great leaders, we think of those who display a strong sense of self and stay true to who they are. To leave a leadership legacy that makes an impact, make sure you’re always acting in a way that aligns with your true character. Even if others may not think the best of you, you will win over those who matter by having integrity.
Be Prepared To Make The Tough Decisions, As Long As They’re The Right Things To Do
Everything in life comes down to choices, and it’s important to choose what you believe is the right course of action, even if it’s difficult. You won’t always get it right, but finding the lessons in failures is just as important to your leadership legacy.
Always Behave Honestly, Kindly, Respectfully And Authentically
How you behave has a huge impact on the way you and your leadership will be remembered. Were you kind? Were you honest and respectful? Did you lead in alignment with your values? And did you do all these things consistently, because that’s genuinely who you were as a person? The legacy you leave behind heavily depends on these factors.
The content of your character, the choices you make and the way you consistently behave all contribute to the growth of your leadership legacy. Once you’re clear on just what you want your legacy to be, you can begin to work on building it.
I know I want my leadership legacy to be one that inspires not just leaders, but any person, to be kind, courageous and authentic. I want to leave behind a world without bullying; a world I helped create. I want people to talk of my work for years to come, and inspire them to greatness.
Role Models NEEDED
This has to be important to you too? Are you feeling the same as me and many others about the world and for our future generations in relation to what they will and are encountering in relation to challenges that we have never experienced, seen or could foreseen? This was a turning point for me. My daughter says to me – “Why would I want to be a leader?”. I ask her where this is coming from (curious as she knows I live and breathe this space and we talk leadership a lot)? I love having these conversations as I am passionate about our future leaders and their courage and confidence to lead. She replies, “you are a great role model (I hope so…) however on social media I am seeing poor examples of leaders. This CEO is doing this wrong, this politician is like this and that…all so negative. Where are the positive role models?” We do what we see and I guess social media and news tends to publish and promote news and stories based on negativity, ego and I suppose bad news sells right?
We need greater role models and it starts with us. Much of what we see is out of our control and hence why we need to be the role models that our children and future generations of today and tomorrow urgently need. This is a conversation I have with many others such as students I engage with at my speaking events at schools and universities as well as the work with Generation Z and Y. Is this important to you too?
This is what drove me to launch the Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and platform so our generations of today and tomorrow are seeing greater role models. This is why they are gaining global momentum because we need to champion and celebrate the change we want to see and be.
Have you ever had someone you look up to and admire? Maybe they helped you through a difficult time, or have gone through a difficult time themself, and persevered through a challenge to come out the other side an even more inspiring person.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” ― James Baldwin
This is someone who is a positive role model – a person who inspires and motivates others through their actions, behaviour, and achievements. They possess qualities like integrity, honesty, empathy, and kindness, and are respected by others for their positive influence. Positive role models can be found in various fields, including sports, entertainment, politics, business, and education. They can even be a friend, a family member, a colleague or a boss.
Ultimately, they all have one thing in common, they have a significant impact on the lives of those who look up to them. They set an example for others to follow, and their behaviour serves as a guide for people to make positive changes in their own lives.
“Find someone who has a life that you want and figure out how they got it. Read books, pick your role models wisely. Find out what they did and do it.”― Lana Del Rey
Why Do We Need Role Models?
Role models play an important role in our lives, providing us with guidance and inspiration as we navigate through life’s challenges. They help us learn important values and skills that we can use to achieve our own goals and aspirations.
Role models can inspire us to achieve greatness by showing us what is possible. When we see someone who has achieved success in an area that we are interested in, it can motivate us to work harder and strive for our own goals. Role models can also provide us with a sense of purpose and direction, helping us to focus our efforts on the things that matter most.
Role models can provide us with guidance and support as we navigate through life. Whether it’s a mentor or a family member, a good role model can offer advice and insight based on their own experiences. This can be particularly helpful when we are facing difficult decisions or going through challenging times. A role model can offer a different perspective, helping us to see things in a new light and make more informed choices.
“I think the best role models for women are people who are fruitfully and confidently themselves, who bring light into the world.” ― Meryl Streep
Role models can help us to grow and develop as individuals. By observing the actions and behaviours of those we admire, we can learn new skills and behaviours that can help us to be more successful in our own lives. For example, a successful entrepreneur may inspire us to take risks and pursue our dreams, while a community leader may teach us the value of giving back and making a difference in the world.
Role models can have a positive influence on our lives, helping us to make better choices and avoid negative behaviours. When we have someone we look up to, we are more likely to emulate their positive qualities and behaviours. For example, if we admire someone for their honesty and integrity, we are more likely to strive for those qualities ourselves.
Representation and diversity
Having a diverse range of role models can help to increase representation and diversity in various fields, and encourage people from different backgrounds to pursue their passions. Role models can help to break down stereotypes and challenge societal norms, promoting a more inclusive and accepting society.
“I don’t want to be a supermodel; I want to be a role model.”― Queen Latifah
Finally, role models can provide us with encouragement and support when we need it most. When we are feeling down or discouraged, a kind word or gesture from a role model can help to lift our spirits and give us the strength to keep going. This can be particularly important for young people who may be struggling to find their place in the world.
How To Find Role Models?
“Each person must live their life as a role model for others.” – Rosa Parks
1. Look for people who inspire you: Think about the people who have had a positive impact on your life or who you admire for their achievements. These individuals can serve as role models and provide you with inspiration to achieve your goals.
2. Research public figures: Look for public figures such as athletes, artists, scientists, or political leaders who you admire. Learn more about their background, accomplishments, and the obstacles they overcame to achieve success.
3. Join groups or organisations: Joining groups or organisations that align with your interests and goals can help you connect with like-minded individuals who can serve as role models.
4. Attend events: Attend events such as workshops, seminars, or conferences where you can meet people who are experts in their field. These events can also provide you with opportunities to network and connect with potential role models.
5. Use social media: Follow social media accounts of people who inspire you or who are experts in your area of interest. You can also join online communities or forums related to your interests to connect with like-minded individuals.
We can all benefit from having someone to look up to and emulate. So, take some time to think about the role models in your life and how they have influenced you. And if you don’t have any role models yet, start looking for someone who can inspire and guide you on your journey towards success and happiness.
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