Leadership and Legacy: How will you be remembered?

“There is no time like the present to start being the person you want to be remembered as.” In this episode, I share my parting thoughts as I wind down my recent tour at JFHQ-DODIN. This tour has taught me many things and helped me grow tremendously as a leader, and I hope that my work has left a similar positive impact on others that will remain even after I leave. Serving as an example of the leader I want to be and follow will continue to be a driving factor for me as I continue my path in this life.

My boss charged me with writing my “Parting Thoughts” prior to my departure. The drill is mainly focused on answering the question, “What would I do if I had one more year in the job?”, which I am going to answer but not in detail here. Instead, I’ll share three ”vision statements” on what I would like to be remembered for. These statements would be something I intend to pass on to future people who will be assigned to JFHQ-DODIN to set them up for success, but I believe these statements apply to anyone who is seeking to constantly elevate their leadership.

Surround yourself with teammates that are working towards mutual goals. A difference between a good and a great leader can be measured by the teammates surrounding them by choice and design. A great leader will seek to build strong relationships that create “Big-T Team” wins, not “small-t team” wins at the expense of others. These relationships can often be forged by mutual goals, which results in a synergy of effort to deliver positive results for everyone involved. These relationships also work best when both parties seek to meet each other where they are at. No team will ever have all of the manning, funding, or time to conduct their mission. However, having an understanding of those limitations can help leaders still make progress and get creative through teamwork and collaboration to deliver results.

Tell a compelling story that everyone can clearly follow along with and understand their role within. Leaders should consistently work towards developing an inclusive environment. I’m not talking about Diversity and Inclusion efforts, I assume those things are already integrated into a professional organization. I’m talking about the inclusion of purpose. A leader is charged with ensuring all teammates know and understand their purpose and value within the team at large. An overarching method to drive home the value of each teammate is to tell a compelling story. Explain how each teammate is integral to the success of the mission. This will help them work hard to not the let team down because they understand what they are bringing to the table.

Create your own opportunities. There are times to understand and follow the roles and responsibilities assigned to you, and there are times to reach higher and claim opportunities for yourself. In the absence of leadership, choose to lead. This may result in you taking on problems or subjects outside of your current wheelhouse, but that is also an opportunity for you to grow as a leader. Sometimes you will need to convince leadership to give you that chance, but in my opinion, that is a fight worth fighting. Be sure to match that opportunity with the appropriate amount of work to succeed, no matter how much work that might be. In the end, the opportunity you create will leave yourself and your team better than you would have should you not fight for the chance to lead.