“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
A lot of us don’t sit down and, with intention, decide what kind of leader we want to be. We learn, we lead, and we share. We practice continual improvement and we just work on being better today than we were yesterday.
There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, please don’t ever stop doing that.
Whether we’re strategically building towards something we decided with intention or passively and reactively building, our choices and actions every single day are cumulative.
And, not only are we moving either towards or away from the kind of leader we want to be – we’re building our legacy as we go. What we leave behind is our contribution and that contribution is in service to the people we work with and those who follow in our footsteps.
What we leave behind is our contribution and that contribution is in service to the people we work with and those who follow in our footsteps.
How, then, can we actively choose?
How can we be mindful of the kind of leader we’re working towards and the legacy we’ll leave behind?
How can we decide exactly what it is we’d like to shift or change or influence? And how do we decide to be content with who we are?
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about exactly what kind of leader you are and whether or not you’re on track to be the kind of leader you want to be.
If your work were to be described as movement – what would it be?
What if, instead of thinking of leadership skills as a personal achievement, we consider them a contribution to a social movement.
What is at the core of why you do what you do?
Is your leadership movement to help staff to feel empowered? Is it to be the leader who built a flat-organisation? Is there a human-centred cause at the root of the work that fires you up? What’s yours?
Is it to be the leader who built a flat-organisation? Is there a human-centred cause at the root of the work that fires you up? What’s yours?
What daily habits and micro-interactions are contributing to your leadership goals?
With health habits, every food choice we make is either neutral, helping, or hurting our health goals whether conscious choices or not.
In that same way, we are either working towards the kind of leader we want to be or not. The micro-choices we make every single day add up to who we are as a leader.
Do you keep your door closed? Do you schedule check-ins? Do you stop and ask your team how they’re doing – even in a moment of stress? How do you respond when you’re dismayed or unhappy?
How much do you delegate and how often do you redirect? Do you frequently run up against deadlines and ask your team to do the same?
What are your core values?
What have you noticed are deal-breakers for you in relationships? Is honesty high on your list?
Are there exceptions? What about altruism — putting the greater good ahead of yourself? Are there exceptions to that one?
Organizations sometimes have great definitions of the core values they look for in a leader (George Mason University has a nice succinct list here) — what would your own list look like?
Can you define it?
How will people talk about the impact you had when you move on? What daily actions are contributing to your legacy? How can you start to ensure your daily choices are moving you towards your leadership goals and vision?