What will be your leadership legacy?

My husband and I got some sad news yesterday. The man who gave my husband his start early in his career, in an industry he’s enjoyed his entire career, passed away.

His name was Paul, which is my husband’s name as well. My husband has not worked directly with Paul for more than 20 years, yet what he did for him has had long-lasting effects.

As we were reflecting on the time they worked together, one key theme continued to surface — there was always lots of laughter and a sense of fun when you worked with Paul. He could make something fun out of the ordinary activities in a day. For example, as they were driving from one appointment to the next, Paul had a challenge – “I’ll bet you we can make it to our next appointment before the William Tell Overture is finished playing!” He cranked up the music, put the pedal to the metal and the race was on! Of course, my husband cannot hear that music without thinking about Paul.

Paul was also a big practical jokester, so he and my husband were constantly looking for funny ways to prank one another or other unsuspecting colleagues. Paul was also quite successful in business, not only for his expertise, but also due to the relationships he built and maintained. He would host costume parties at his home at Halloween, invite people to enjoy some fun at his lake house and when he traveled to new cities, he ALWAYS embraced the opportunity to get out enjoy what the city had to offer. He was not one to just order room service and stay cooped up in the hotel. He would explore museums, local restaurants or other touristy destinations to meet and learn about others. He would get engaged in other people’s lives. Paul certainly did a lot for my husband’s career in making introductions to key people, which led to even more opportunities to grow and develop.

It’s funny how it often takes a death of someone to make us stop and reflect on our own lives and priorities. This event made me ponder the question, what will my leadership legacy be? What do I want to be known for? What do I want to be remembered for?

The reality is that we do things everyday that have an impact on others and we are typically clueless about how we have touched other’s lives. So my challenge for you is this:

  1. If someone has made a huge impact on your life, let them know it! I guarantee they will be stunned and amazed and you will give them a huge gift by letting them know.
  2. Think about what you want your leadership legacy to be. Write it down. Start living it. The little things you do every day is what creates your legacy.

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @MDuesterhoft.