Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.

– Sheryl Sandberg

If you were to leave your organization today, what would be the legacy that you would leave behind?

Impact has been defined as having a strong effect on someone or something. Our effect is delivered through our behavior, creating actions that result in both positive and negative outcomes.

We leave a mark.

Great leaders understand their impact, and realize their legacy is created beginning today. They view leadership as a privilege and are admired for their humility and passion. We watch, listen, and learn from them.

Their mark makes us better.

I was fortunate to have several impactful leaders in my career, and the lessons from my mentor who passed away four years ago continue to guide me today. He deserves full credit for rescuing my career when I made a rookie mistake. The situation involved a visit by a company executive to our office while I was out of town. I had a presentation scheduled that day away from the office, and I struggled with which priority I should choose. One of my peers advised me to go to my meeting – he said it was no big deal.

The visiting executive was furious upon arriving at our office only to learn I was not available. He was a powerful player in the company promotion process and expected others to make his time a priority My once promising professional path appeared to be under water.

To my surprise, the peer who advised me to travel was revealed to be a personal foe who apparently enjoyed my demise. I felt betrayed. My impactful mentor helped me understand the lesson and advocated with the visiting executive to resolve the situation. I was disappointed in my naivete and failure to understand company politics.

The good news is that the lessons learned help me not only in my career moving forward – I became a better mentor myself.

Leaders leave both good and bad marks, and we need to know the difference. As the author David Brooks reminds us, at the end of our life our legacy is reflected through our eulogy – not our resume. Making others better because you cared and shared.

Three Keys to becoming an impactful leader:

Other Centered
Self-centeredness limits our professional careers. As our careers and accomplishments grow, we can believe we are more important than we really are. Impactful leaders focus on others rather than themselves. They help others discover their strengths and enable them to flourish.

Give v. Take
Admired leaders share their wisdom, often through stories. They realize the power of experience and their role as teachers. While those who are preoccupied with ‘take’ may succeed in the short term, a life of ‘give’ always wins in the end.

Be Present
Leaders are required to make difficult decisions on how they allocate their time. The demands exceed their capacity. When we pay attention to people over projects, we invest in what matters most. Our undivided attention sends the message that we value what they do, and who they are.

Organizations need and rely on impactful leaders, particularly during times of tremendous change. Today, I encourage you to realize the legacy you have built and what needs to change. Create a legacy of significance and respect – make your mark.

All My Best,

Todd

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