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  • Tamar Balkin

Is It Ever Too Early To Think About Your Legacy?

“You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything You've got to be your own man not a puppet on a string Never compromise what's right and uphold your family name You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.”

You've Got To Stand For Something by Aaron Tippin (click here for the song)


 

Personal photo


 

“Over the years, those who have seemed to me to be the most happy, contented and fulfilled have always been the people who have lived the most outgoing and unselfish lives.”

Queen Elizabeth II

 

Last week the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland died, she was the longest-reigning monarch in British history. The news is filled with tributes and memories of her reign from the moment she came into office until her death.

 

“I feel as though I have made a difference to many people,” “I have made and created things that have had an impact on other people,” “I think that I will be remembered for a long time after I die,” “Others would say that I have made unique contributions to society,”


Self-report legacy items from McAdams and de St. Aubin’s (1992) Loyola Generativity Scale (LGS)

 

A person's legacy can be achieved in their lifetime, it may be a gift and an example for the next generation of leaders who share your vision of the future. The sum of your words and actions leaves an indelible legacy that defines what you valued during your time in leadership. A leader's legacy is always being created, intentionally or unintentionally. From the moment a person enters the workforce and or takes on any leadership position their legacy begins. Regular readers would know that in every role in life there will always be ethical decisions, choices in how you treat others and the attitude you have towards your work and those around you. These decisions and actions are observed and shape how others view you. A legacy is formed by the moments shared, the decisions made, the actions taken, and even the mistakes overcome throughout the many phases of your career. Researchers have found that the more intentional and proactive a leader is in their behaviour the more likely their legacy will be aligned with their values. Therefore, it takes continual conscious effort to create and leave an intentional legacy, in any facet of life.

 

“The legacy that we are given shapes us in ways that are often apparent (sometimes less so) in how we live our lives; the values, virtues, traditions, and attitudes we either choose to adopt or reject. It helps shape “who” we become and “what” we become in life.”

William S. Breitbart M.D.


The challenge for a leader is to live to their full potential, in spite of, or thanks to, the legacy they have been given. Successful leaders tend to surpass the limitations placed upon them by the world.

Does it matter?


Regular readers would know the importance of a leader having a defined purpose, clear ethics and values to guide their behaviour. Clearly articulating a legacy that is reflective of all these elements is a valuable technique for a leader to always remain focused on what really matters to them in both life and work. Interestingly, researchers have found that leaders with high legacy beliefs maintain an active leadership engagement with their work because they believe that their actions have a purpose. Their aim is to ensure that they leave an enduring and positive impact on others in the future. In addition, over time, there is a positive reciprocal relationship between legacy beliefs and leadership behaviours.

Taking the time to define what your legacy is and how you will put it into practice, serves as an excellent guide for enhancing your leadership capability and well-being.

 

A bit of a tangent..


Every year when my late Grandmother's orchids bloom in my garden I am reminded of her legacy. She was a humble, selfless, hardworking lady. There are many people, especially women, who continue to be impacted by her kind, quiet, yet no-nonsense community and professional work.



Personal photo of my late grandmother’s orchids, which are currently blossoming in my garden.

 

So take a moment to contemplate how you are currently shaping your legacy. If you would like to be kept accountable, please email me with your thoughts and dreams.

 

References: Queen Elizabeth dies: Here are some of her most famous quotes – WSB-TV Channel 2 - Atlanta Social Media and The Intentional Leadership Legacy | Psychology Today Australia Zacher, H., Rosing, K., & Frese, M. (2011). Age and leadership: The moderating role of legacy beliefs. Leadership Quarterly, 22(1), 43-50. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2010.12.006 www.psychologytoday.com. (n.d.). Your Legacy | Psychology Today Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/meaningful-new-world/201608/your-legacy [Accessed 13 Sep. 2022].

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