With the average turnover rate for leadership roles at an unprecedented 18%, now is the time when these new leaders should briefly step back from thinking about where they are going next and, instead, take a moment to consider what they will be leaving behind.
What leadership impression will you be leaving in your wake? Are you creating policies, practices, and a work environment that will persevere … or will your time as leader be a flash in the pan that moves the organization from A to B rather than A to Z?
Think of it as leaving a footprint. Is your goal to leave a footprint set in stone, that will remain long after you have left … or do you plan to leave a footprint in the sand that will wash away with the tide to make way for a new leader?
It may sound strange to advise a leader who has just started in their role to be preparing for when they exit. However, if you have a good understanding of what you want to achieve and what legacy you would like to leave behind, you can significantly increase your chances of success by being intentional from day one.
So it’s important to ask yourself: How do I want to be remembered?
Inspirational and effective leaders create a roadmap of what they would like to achieve and what they plan to leave behind. You don’t have to know when you might leave, but by adopting this mindset you can consistently work towards a set of goals that guide you in achieving the intended results.
This awareness also influences your leadership style. Leaders who can understand and forward-think enough to craft the impression they leave often harness highly effective people management skills. For example, being intentionally vulnerable and honest with your team, where appropriate, minimizes miscommunication and encourages teammates to work together.
Think back to the last time you had an off day (as we all do!). First, assume you did not communicate this to your team; your reactions could send ripples through the company, derailing the efforts you already made to build a well-functioning team. You could be remembered for your temper, abrasive style, or withdrawal from the team. Then imagine an off day where you clued-in your colleagues and direct reports. They knew from the beginning that if you were acting somewhat out of character, it was you and not them. They were not to blame for your behavior, and your honest vulnerability could instantly minimize the risk of negative ripples through the team and company. In this scenario, you could be remembered for your integrity, teamwork, and courage when under pressure.
The bottom line is that it is your decision how you want to be perceived and remembered. One effective way to start is to imagine how you would perceive yourself if you were an employee reporting to you – would you be happy with yourself as a leader? What would you remember about your leadership style?
In every leadership class I have facilitated, participating leaders turn the conversation to a discussion about ineffective or toxic bosses. A significant disruptive force of turnover comes from a leader who leaves a cracked or broken team in their wake. Leaders can avoid this outcome and, instead, be remembered for something beneficial or inspirational by being intentional from the get-go.
If you would like to discuss the coaching we offer to help you plan your legacy roadmap from day one, please get in touch with me at email@example.com