My favorite boss to this day was an executive named Bruce. I wrote an article about him, where I talk about his Servant Leadership style, and what he did to get the best out of his people. For example:
- He spent countless hours coaching and mentoring me to higher performance.
- He shared some of the decision-making with me to stretch my growth.
- He invested in my development and equipped to succeed and serve my customers with excellence.
Any of that resonate? Perhaps you've worked for a "Bruce" at one time in your life. Leaders like these aren't characters in some Hollywood script. They are real humans beings but they arrived there through hard work and a wholehearted commitment to learn to be the best.
When it's all over, leaders are measured by one question.
If you're in a leadership role, we tend to forget the impact we have on the people entrusted under our care. It's an enormous responsibility with livelihoods at stake.
That's why we need constant reminders marking our path to great leadership. So when you look back at your career as a leader, you should be asking one profound question as the litmus test of your leadership legacy:
How will I be remembered by the people I worked with?
Would your former employees or peers, ten or twenty years from now, put you on their list of "favorite bosses?" Better yet, would you make anyone's list?
Would you be remembered as a giver? As Bruce was for me, would you be known as someone giving of his time, energy, knowledge, and expertise?
Would you be known for pouring into other people's development, making them better workers and human beings?
Would you be known for making an impact in their lives -- serving their needs and placing their interests ahead of your own?
Would you be known for shooting straight with people -- being transparent, open and fair, and holding others accountable for their success?
Would you be known for creating psychological safety, connecting with employees, and caring for their well-being, and not just managing their work performance?
Would you be known for showing up with self-awareness (understanding oneself) and empathy (the ability to feel and understand what others are feeling) in day-to-day interactions and decision-making?
In the end, that's what it will take. Make no mistake about it -- the leadership journey is not for wimps. It's taking the highest possible road. So if your desire is to place yourself in the position to be the very best leader, you have to have an even greater desire to place others in the position to be their very best.
This is when you can look back with confidence and gratitude, and deeply affirm to yourself, "I was a good leader."