That One Leadership Thing...

This one thing is something we don’t think very often about, but stirs deep inside all of us. Our thoughts about this one thing are usually precipitated by a reflective question when we are deep in contemplative thought:

  • What am I doing here?
  • What value am I bringing?
  • What is next for me?
  • What impact have I had on those around me?

If we have a pulse, we can not help but consider this one leadership thing from time to time: Leadership Legacy.


One very common definition for a legacy is "something we are handing down to others." This "something" can be property, like when a great aunt leaves you a sum of money from her will. The "something" can be a tradition, like a student that attends the same school as a parent. In our context, this "something" is a value that makes life better for the benefactor.

Leadership Legacy

I want to think for a moment about what you are leaving to those who follow you.

My thought here is not around all of the great ideas and intentions you have. It is not about your quarterly, three-year, or five-year plan. It is not about the sleepless nights, or stress you are feeling in the moment.

Rather, it is about your impact. Not only your day to day impact but your overall impact as a leader.

The Question

What do you want you want to pass on to those who are in your sphere of influence?  What do you want to give them? What value do you want to impart to them?

Here is what I am sure about:

You will pass on something to your followers. You will. Intentional or not, they will remember you for something. You must choose whether you will intentionally pass on something of value, or leave your legacy to chance.

The Story

Nearly every morning I try to spend at least 30-minutes in reflection, Bible Study, and prayer. It is how I like to start my day. I feel more centered when I do this.

Sometimes I just study a chapter in the Bible by reading and meditating. Other times I use a study book. Currently, I am reading The Art of Living Well by Ken Boa and Gail Burnett. In the introduction of this book, Gail talks about when she was young and the worst thing the average teenager could do was to cheat on an exam. As she had children of her own, her self-proclaimed discipline focus was “the war on drugs." She did everything in her power to keep her kids from becoming involved in drugs. When her kids became adults she was really glad to know they did not get involved in drugs and equally shocked to discover they had been guilty of cheating at school from time to time.

The assumption Gail had made was that her kids would naturally pick up her ethical value against cheating. Similarly, as leaders we often assume that others in our organization must share the same fundamental truths and values.

What about YOU?

Is there anything in your leadership life that you are assuming the people in your organization just know? How intentional are you being about what kind of legacy you are leaving behind?


Sit for 30-minutes every day next week. Grab your Bible, or an inspirational book, and search your leadership life. Ask yourself what it is that you really want to pass on to your followers. What would it look like for you to be intentional about building your legacy around your values?