A comment I hear most often when teaching leadership courses is this: “Leadership is common sense.” To which I respond, “But common sense is not that common.”
My January Leading Edge column described how right now is the perfect time for effective leadership skills. It discussed changing the narrative around soft skills. “Call them strong skills, brave skills, or leadership superpowers…It takes courage and vulnerability to use these skills in the workplace, but doing so results in organizations in which employees feel valued, included, and engaged.” This is what organizations need and want now in order to attract and retain quality talent.
I define a leader as a person in the position to influence others—bosses, teachers, coaches, parents, pastors, and more. In my book, “Leading with Wisdom: Sage Advice from 100 Experts” (ATD, 2013), I concluded that leadership is not a title or a position. Leadership is a relationship, and leadership development is actually personal development. Learning how to develop strong and authentic personal relationships is the key to being an effective leader.
FOLLOWING OUR “TRUE NORTH”
The chapter in “Leading with Wisdom” that seems to resonate the most is titled “Leaders Live Their Legacy.” So I decided to do a “deep dive” into legacy work. This research resulted in my latest book, “Breadcrumb Legacy: How Great Leaders Live a Life Worth Remembering” (Routledge, 2023). The main premise of this book is that legacy thinking can be our “true north” or “moral compass.” When we think about the impact we are having on a daily basis, we likely will live our life differently.
Legacy is a hot topic these days. We associate legacy with “leaving” as in when people die or retire. But legacy is now. We are leaving our legacy in small ways—bite-size pieces…breadcrumbs—and it can be negative.
We often think of legacy at the end—end of life, end of career, end of a position or project. And we usually think of legacy as positive. But we are leaving our legacy in “crumbs” with each interaction, conversation, and action—with what we say and do.
Hybrid work may be here to stay. But as leaders weave organizational cultures back together, they need to use common sense. Now is the time to demonstrate care, compassion, and understanding in work and personal relationships. We really do live our legacy by what we leave behind every day in small ways—with everyone we encounter.