The Memorable Leader

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The true test of your leadership is after you have gone. Do you remain in the hearts of your followers? Is the baton passed on to follow the vision or does it die with you? We see today, people are still being inspired by the world’s greatest leaders. Their influence seems to be strengthened in their absence. I lost one of my managers a couple of years ago and I can’t seem to forget him or the legacy he left behind. Sometimes I’ll browse through saved e-mails from him and think how awesome a person he was.

The following are 5 Common Qualities of Memorable Leaders:

1. Integrity & Authenticity go hand in hand - The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.” Dwight D. Eisenhower. Great leaders are known for the ethical principles they stand on and their actions promote these values. My Manager, Ed was honest with employees even though this trait was sometimes unpopular with top management. He often took the slack for his team. If leadership is not authentic, then what is it? Authenticity acts as a catalyst that earns the respect of employees. Authenticity builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust." In all my research, the greatest leaders looked inward and were able to tell a good story with authenticity and passion.” Deepak Chopra

2. Humility is a critical leadership success factor. Leading with humility means focusing on others and practicing the servant leadership. True leaders always aim to serve rather than be served. Being humble makes you more approachable to your followers and allows you to create an environment of open communication and more effective feedback. A true leader is one who is humble enough to admit their mistake. They are not afraid to seek assistance or say when they don’t know. Leaders that share the credit and don't blame others for problems are more respected by their team. The x-factor of great leadership is not personality, it's humility." -- business management expert Jim Collins

3. Empathy plays a critical role in one’s ability to be a successful leader. It sharpens your "people acumen" and it informs your decisions. We tend to confuse empathy with sympathy; empathy is really being able to understand the needs of others. It means that you are aware of their feelings and how it impacts their perception. Empathy is an important component of effective relationships and is indeed a valued currency. Empathy allows leaders to develop and maintain relationships with those they lead. Leaders that possess this trait always make time for people. Many organizations are focused on achieving goals no matter what the cost to employees. Great leaders are concerned about getting the job done as well as the well-being of those under their care. They are supportive of their employees’ development. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. – Theodore Roosevelt

4. Communication - Leadership has been described as "a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common goal." Therefore two way communication is key to leadership success. Great leaders are able to communicate their vision in such a way that motivates their team. They are great communicators; quick to listen and slow to speak. They possess high emotional intelligence skills. They value and often ask for their team’s input. “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

5. Inspirational - Inspirational Leadership is about energizing and creating a sense of direction and purpose for employees and excitement and momentum to achieve goals. Inspirational leaders are capable of taking an organization and
people to new heights. They are able to get followers to do tasks even without a title. They recognize individuals' achievements, knowledge and capabilities and openly praise their employees. Ed taught me to believe in myself and saw qualities in me I didn’t know I had. Words such as ‘Good work team, you are the best”, “I trust your judgment,” “Well done” were at the top of his dictionary. Team spirit was high during his reign. He made everyone feel valued and appreciated. The greatest legacy a leader can leave is having developed other leaders. If you want to leave a legacy, invest in people. "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

Sometimes I can still picture Ed walking through the office greeting staff on mornings and might even give me a little nod or pat on the back. Those were the special moments I still hold dear. It doesn’t take much to create those special moments with your team; sometimes it’s the little things that you do that counts the most. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Whether you want to admit it or not, you are making or leaving a mark. Making a mark is likened unto leaving footprints in the sand whereas leaving a mark is one which is embedded in stone. I’m referring to unforgettable positive impressions.

“People are what matter in this world—not money or fame or buildings or organizations or institutions. Only people.” John C. Maxwell. Therefore, if you value people everything else will fall into place.

What legacy are you leaving behind?