What kind of leader am I? What impact am I making on others and on the world around me? What will my legacy be?
As women business owners, we often think about questions related to our leadership and legacy. I know I do for both myself and for NAWBO as a business owner as well as the new NAWBO National Board Chair.
Leading isn’t easy. We make tough decisions and changes every day that impact our business, our employees, our customers and their businesses. And through it all, we work to leave a positive, lasting impact that reflects our personal values, passion and drive. Whether our legacy is our business, the culture we create, a positive change we make in our community or on a community, national or global cause—or a combination of it all—it is what we’ll be remembered for in years to come.
A recent article in Forbes magazine describes a leadership legacy like this: “A leader’s legacy is a byproduct of the historical decisions one makes driven by his or her personal values. In other words, a solid legacy plants the seeds from which consistency and expectations sprout that, in turn, become the organizational funnel for future performance.” In other words, you leave your own mark and then create an example for others to follow.
Someone like Oprah Winfrey might come to mind, for example, when thinking about a woman who has created a powerful legacy. She stood for truth, education and giving back for more than 20 years as millions of people tuned into her show. She introduced us to experts, from Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz to experts in fashion, clutter, weight and other topics that have transformed lives. She even gave us a magazine and television network. She has clearly left a lasting, positive impact on the world.
As women business owners, how can we create a leader’s legacy we are proud of? While we may not have the resources and reach as someone like Oprah, we can certainly do it in smaller, meaningful ways through our businesses and even through leadership opportunities in NAWBO. Here are some thoughts to consider:
- Be engaging. Set a clear vision of where your company or NAWBO chapter needs to go and why. When people understand why a decision is made, they are more likely to get behind it.
- Be people-focused. Show genuine interest in the people who surround you; it can be as simple as stopping by someone’s office for a conversation or taking them to lunch.
- Be daring: Great leaders dare greatly and in turn, encourage others to keep daring. (Click here to learn about and register for this October’s National Women’s Business Conference, hosted by NAWBO in Minneapolis, with the theme “Together We Dare.”)
- Be performance-driven: Create an environment that promotes organizational performance through clear expectations, the right people in the right positions, the right resources for those people to perform and systems and processes that support their success.
What kind of leader are you? What legacy do you hope to leave?
—Kathy Warnick, 2017-2018 NAWBO National Chair