Legacy or Leadership and Legacy?
In coaching, there is a recognition that learning is life-long. People learn by different methods and the best of these is by action and practice. The belief is also that adults can navigate their way around their issues and don’t need anyone to advise them what to do. They know what they want to do long before the coach comes along. The only claim to success that a coach may make is when you get the client to commit to a specific course of action and offer to be an accountability partner.
Reflecting on this matter as we drew to the end of 2018, two things must be in your to-do list this New Year:
- Know what type of leader you are, and
- Commit to action to change your situation.
It does not matter whether you are a manager, a parent or just being you. Know what type pf person you are and how people perceive you. The definition of leader is in many books describing many variations. When it comes to leading self and others however, it is your personality traits and the learning preferences that define the type of leader you are and how people will experience you.
Firstly, if you operate with abstract concepts you are mostly a thinker. You can generate ideas, are creative and your success at leadership is if you are able to articulate the ideas clearly to your team and let them understand things like you do. Many abstract conceptual leaders fall at the feet of communication. If your communication tools are not good, your ideas die within and your team is frustrated. Make your followers happy by communicating your ideas better.
Secondly, some leaders rely on concrete experiences to articulate and share ideas. This type of leader may provide passion when he/she is speaking from experience. It sounds like what he has not experienced will not pass. Take note of this trait this New Year and allow your followers some freedom to share their own experiences with you, too. This will enrich your arsenal of experiences as well.
Thirdly, if you are an active experimenter, you are a hands-on practical leader. By doing, people learn and become better. Make sure you get feedback from your team as they practice with you. Your take away will be better with different ways of doing the same things.
Finally, if you are a reflective observer, you are not alone. Many leaders who come from especially highly technical and experimental backgrounds tend to be like this. This is leadership without followers. At the individual level, you can take this stance and watch from afar and not necessarily inspire or influence anyone. What can the reflective leader do to improve? Start sharing your reflections! You can start with one like-minded person at a time. Learn those traits that enable you to have followers who can try to understand you and give you feedback; otherwise what will be your legacy when all is said and done? Followers tell your story, replicate it and give you the legacy. They describe or emulate you as they experienced you: Sad, happy, up tight, accommodating, strict, playful, reflective, funny, quiet, trustworthy, reliable or whatever you will have given to them. Rest assured, it will be authentic and true. They will not embellish anything. They will describe you in the person that you are. Start getting feedback and you will learn and benefit from it. That is your legacy.
Are you not surprised that after all, you do not leave a legacy as such? Instead, it is something of yourself that you share and spread around in your everyday living. Your legacy to your children is not tangible stuff. It’s your temperament, patience, shared activities. The hallmarks of a good legacy across the board are:
- i) Connection. People will remember how good they felt being in your orbit, the things you did together, the upliftment they felt. These connections are a source of lifelong learning.
- ii) Awareness. When you are aware you do not take anything for granted. As a leader, you reach out to all your troupes; you ask questions that seek to clarify and understand. This is important even for legacy. Make people feel they are valued by reaching out and focussing on them. Awareness is loaded with empathy, sympathy and patience all of which make people feel well regarded.
iii) Action/ Enthusiasm. There can be no connection and awareness without action. Many leadership styles are couched in how action is affected in groups.
Remember that leadership is about self and how you impact others.
In 2019, make those connections with people a priority; be aware and remind yourself that action is legacy.