Leadership is often messy and unpredictable. Leaders today are trying to do more with fewer resources, and in a shorter timeframe. In addition to managing limited resources, leaders are expected to build solid professional relationships, coach and mentor employees, be in tune with team morale, manage conflict, and successfully navigate corporate culture…and that’s just the short list of expectations. The ways in which you handle these expectations are the daily deposits you put into your leadership legacy account.

Many leaders think that their legacy will be built much later in their career. In reality, you start shaping your legacy the moment you assume your first management position. Your legacy is not determined by wishful thinking. It is defined by your daily decisions, interactions with others, mistakes made, and what you learn along the way. Thinking about how you want to be remembered as a leader in the future will help you become an even stronger leader today.

In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey advises us to “begin with the end in mind.” If you want to be a respected and remembered leader, start thinking about your legacy now. People need to know who you are, what you stand for, and what you will and won’t negotiate. Here are a couple of tips to help you better define who you are as a leader as you begin crafting your leadership legacy.

Know Your Values

You can’t build a legacy if you don’t know what you stand for. Your values are your non-negotiables and they impact and guide every aspect of your life. They are created and influenced by your family, friends, peers, religious affiliation, education, what you’ve read, and much more. Effective leaders develop a clear, concise, and meaningful set of values and priorities. They communicate their values and demonstrate them when making decisions, handling challenges and recognizing both individual and team success. Identify your values, and hold true to them by being authentic, predictable, trustworthy and humble. Legacy leaders don’t leave behind a legacy by accident –unless it’s a bad one. The foundation of your leadership legacy is rooted in knowing what you will and won’t stand for – your non-negotiables – and then taking actions that align with your stated values.

Develop And Share Your Vision

People follow leaders with a clear and positive vision. In addition to handling the daily logistics of your job, it’s critical for you to periodically take time out to think strategically. Where are you now? Where do you want to be in a month? How about in a year? What are the current challenges you’re facing, and how do you envision solving them? What are you learning? What are you sharing strategically with your team? What are their insights about possible resolutions to current challenges? People are inspired by visionary leaders. They can’t follow you if you don’t know where you’re going.


You can’t be a leader without trust and respect, and you can’t build trust and respect without communication. Make a conscious effort to keep people informed of all available information, even if there isn’t much available at the time. Gossip prevails in a communication vacuum, and the gossip is always far richer than reality. In addition to continuously keeping people in the loop, take every available opportunity to use language in a way that keeps team members inspired and motivated. Tell relevant stories that help people relate, both with their heads and hearts, to your strategic plan or vision. Facts tell, but stories sell. Make a conscious effort to be on the lookout for stories that will unify your team and inspire them to take action.

Be A Relationship Builder

Legacy leaders have friends and followers everywhere. They have built their legacy by being mindful of the needs of others, and by looking for opportunities to serve. If you intend to be remembered as a great leader, start now. Smile more often. Make friends when you don’t need them. Do things for others that they can’t do for themselves, and take action without the expectation of reciprocation. Legacy leaders recognize that leadership is about relationships, and actively look for opportunities to build genuine relationships with people, regardless of where they are on the corporate ladder.

Learn Continuously

You might have an advanced degree in leadership, but to be successful, you have to be a continuous learner. Stay current in your industry, and champion new approaches and techniques. When mistakes happen, learn from them. Let team members know what you’ve learned from your mistakes, and what you will do differently next time you are in a similar situation. Not only are you demonstrating humility and earning respect, you are also role-modeling how employees should handle their mistakes and learn from them.

Walk Your Talk

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of answering emails, attending meetings, creating reports and ensuring your employees are doing their jobs. Don’t lose sight of your goal to be the best possible leader – one that leaves a lasting legacy. Live true to your stated values. Do what matters most, and do it now. Stand up for what is right, and hold others accountable for meeting expectations.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

How you walk your talk on a daily basis is what shapes your leadership legacy. Think about what your actions says about you, and start putting deposits into your leadership legacy account today.

This post was originally published here.

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