For a long time in my life, I had a hard time looking too far ahead into my future. I lost my mother when I was in High School; she was only 39 years old when she died. This life cut short and my own grief made it hard for me to imagine the future. This realization and the counsel and meditation that helped me move forward opened my eyes to the importance of creating a vision for myself. 

As I observe in my book, What’s Your Catalyst: “Ask for wisdom, and you will get it. Seek wise counsel to help clear roadblocks in your thinking, and refer to experts around you with visionary insights.”

In my newly-discovered long-term thinking, a word that kept coming into play was ‘legacy’. When I was growing up, my mother would always look at me and tell me that I was a better version of her. As I work diligently to become a better version of me, I am, in turn, honoring her legacy. When I stepped out to create my own practice with 2Hill Consulting, legacy was also front of mind – what kind of impact did I want to have? What would I leave behind, both professionally and personally? 

Over time I have seen the concept of legacy become increasingly important to my clients – both organizations and individuals want to create something that transcends our fast paced, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it lives. It could be social change, a reputation for fairness, a loving practice, a strong family or stability for future generations. That’s the thing about legacy – it is yours to shape. 

What is a legacy?

One of the most profound aspirations for any visionary leader is to leave a lasting legacy – an indelible mark a leader leaves on their organization, team, and the wider community. A legacy is the embodiment of our principles, values, and actions, shaping the future and inspiring generations to come. Aspiring to leave a legacy is crucial in the leadership journey, so let’s explore how to start creating one. 

  1. Vision and Purpose

At the core of a leadership legacy lies a clear vision and a sense of purpose. A leader must have a profound understanding of their values and what they wish to achieve during their tenure. A well-articulated vision serves as a compass, guiding us through challenges and triumphs. As we build our legacy upon the foundation of this vision, we must also communicate it passionately to those around us to ignite collective passion and commitment.

  1. Empowering Others

It’s no accident that one of my key principles is built around the proverb: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

An enduring legacy is built by empowering others to become leaders in their own right. Effective leaders invest in the development of their team members, organization and community, providing guidance, mentorship, and opportunities for growth. By cultivating future leaders, a leader ensures the sustainability of their impact long after they depart.

  1. Organizational Culture

A strong and positive organizational culture is a hallmark of a distinguished leadership legacy. Cultivating a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration fosters a harmonious working environment where employees feel valued and engaged. Leaders should actively nurture this culture if they want to build something others want to be part of. 

  1. Innovation and Adaptability

A legacy is not confined to maintaining the status quo but requires embracing innovation and adaptability. Leaders must have the courage to experiment in order to stay relevant and keep moving forward. Often, this means stepping outside of our comfort zone and doing the right thing, not the easy thing. 

  1. Social and Environmental Responsibility

A truly impactful leadership legacy extends beyond financial success and encompasses social and environmental responsibility. Leaders should champion sustainable and equitable practices, ethical decision-making, and corporate social responsibility initiatives. This commitment to making a positive impact on society sets an inspiring example for future generations.

Why Should You Care About Your Legacy?

Focusing on leaving a legacy provides a sense of motivation and purpose that goes beyond personal success. It elevates our actions to benefit others and contribute to the greater good. And while you might not be around to witness the extent of your legacy, there is an immortality of influence. By leaving a lasting impact, a leader’s influence continues to guide and inspire future generations of leaders and employees. Even leaving a legacy from one role to another is highly beneficial – helping you garner recognition in your industry and society at large.

Leaving a leadership legacy is a profound commitment that requires thoughtful planning, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to core values. Caring about one’s legacy is not just about personal satisfaction; it is about making a lasting difference in the lives of others and shaping a better world. So, if you’re not building a legacy – what are you doing?