Legacy-Driven Leadership: Creating a Lasting Impact



Habits of Highly Productive Transformation Leaders
Prof. Lere Baale


Leadership is an essential aspect of all organisations. Whether in business, politics, or community organisations, leaders drive change and create a vision for the future. However, not all leaders are the same. Some leaders are driven by creating a legacy, a lasting impact that lasts long after they are gone. These are legacy-driven leaders, who believe in creating a better world for future generations.


What is legacy-driven leadership?

Legacy-driven leadership is about creating an enduring impact beyond the leader’s lifetime. It is leadership that is not only focused on short-term goals but also on creating something that stands the test of time. Legacy-driven leaders believe in building a better future through their decisions and actions.

Leaders who are legacy-driven have a sense of purpose. They are committed to creating something that they believe is important and that will positively impact future generations. They are passionate, driven, and deeply committed to their goals, knowing their actions can inspire others to work towards the same vision.

Legacy-driven leadership is a concept that has gained significant attention in recent times. It involves creating a legacy for future generations, where leaders focus on creating something that lasts long after they are gone. A legacy-driven leader is driven not only by their immediate interests but by creating a long-term impact.


Why is legacy-driven leadership important?

There are several reasons why legacy-driven leadership is essential. First, it creates a sense of continuity that ensures that organisations remain stable and thriving. Second, it inspires employees to work towards something more significant than themselves.

Legacy-driven leadership is essential for creating long-term success in any organisation. It ensures a sense of continuity, where leaders build on the successes of their predecessors, rather than starting from scratch. It provides a sense of purpose, making it easier for leaders to make difficult decisions and build lasting institutions.

Leadership: Yesterday, Today and the Future

Moreover, legacy-driven leadership inspires employees to work towards something greater than themselves. It promotes collaboration, where individuals work together towards a shared goal. It also empowers employees, knowing that their work contributes to something that will positively impact future generations.

Additionally, legacy-driven leadership imbues a sense of purpose, making it easier for leaders to make difficult decisions and steer their organisations towards success.


Examples of legacy-driven leaders

There have been many legacy-driven leaders throughout history. One of the most famous is Nelson Mandela. His legacy-driven leadership ensured that he fought for the equality of all South Africans and left a lasting impact that inspired future generations.

Another example is Elon Musk, who is committed to creating a future where humanity can thrive beyond the confines of our planet. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Rev. Sr Margaret Howes, and Rev. Fr Martins McComboy are other legacy-driven leaders who have left an enduring impact.


The mindset of a legacy-driven leader

Surprisingly, many leaders don’t spend enough time thinking about their legacy – what they will leave behind for the organisation and the people they serve.  Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.”  Legacy is not bound by age or time Legacy represents your body of work at each stage of your career as you establish the foundational building blocks and accumulate the required wisdom to contribute to growth, innovation and opportunity both in and outside the workplace.   Your legacy grows with each new experience, with each previously untested idea and bold ideal that you are courageous enough to deploy, and each time you inspire others to see something through to fruition.

Leadership: Yesterday, Today and the Future (5)

For many, leaving a legacy is associated with the end, rather than the beginning of the next phase in one’s career.   Your leadership is not shaped, and your legacy is not defined at the end of the road but rather by the moments shared, the decisions made, the actions taken, and even the mistakes overcome throughout the many phases of your career.

Leadership, done rightly, is a reinvention process – a continuous discovery that informs your mindset, new skill sets and aptitudes. You learn how to keep creating sustainable impact and influence at each career stage. With each step you take, you will identify new ways of mastering the fundamentals, providing greater clarity and depth of thought to improve your leadership approach and communication style further.

For legacy-driven leadership, there are five significant phases in my career. This series of legacy stages has guided my leadership journey and shaped the leader that I am today – just as much as the mentors who taught me about the importance of legacy. I’ve been able to use the five phases of my career thus far as milestones to measure my progress and maintain a strategic focus on my leadership trajectory.

As part of this process, I’ve remained in close contact with those who played essential roles in my leadership growth and ensure that at each stage of my career I remind myself of how I’ve matured and course-corrected along this journey.

If you were to leave your current line of work today, what is the legacy you would leave behind?   How would others define it?   Are you paying attention to the feedback and how it can guide the next phase of your career and your ability to influence others?

Legacy-Driven Leadership: Creating a Lasting Impact (2)

If you were to evaluate the last ten years of your career and its various stages, what is the story you would tell others about your legacy?  If others told the story, would the same narrative hold?  Based on the narrative, what would the next ten years look like?  What would you change or do differently?

The best leadership legacies are a consequence of success coming to those surrounded by people who want their success to continue.   When you can inspire those around you to take a leap of faith with you, you are creating a legacy-defining moment in your leadership career. Whenever you have this opportunity, embrace it.   Capture the moment and appreciate the inherent responsibility associated with it to guide and shape the overall experience. After the moment subsides, share the significance with your team and how it also plays an essential part in their legacy.

Here is another perspective you can get –  review your resume and describe the legacy you left behind at each job. The legacies you can more easily define relate to jobs that matter most to you.  They were more purposeful because you could contribute in meaningful ways that also inspired those around you.  When you find it a challenge to identify your legacy, that particular job had less importance and impact on your career; in many cases, it may have taken you a step backwards in your leadership progression, causing an awakening and a course-correction to get your career moving forward again.


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