A great leader is someone who is not solely focused on showing a profit for the businesses they manage. Instead, exceptional leaders recognize that "people proceeds" -- the building and solidifying of relationships with the ones they lead-- is the lifeblood of their achievements.

As my consulting company enters its 25th year, I am reflecting upon the things I've learned over the last quarter century that define great leadership, as well as the foundations of leaving a leadership legacy.

Are you considered a respected leader who has contributed to your company's success through encouraging and inspiring people? If so, you are creating not only a financially rewarding business but also a stimulating and gratifying place to work. Remarkable leaders hold the power to move mountains -- galvanizing their employees to carry their company through difficult times with persistence and dedication. True success is, therefore, about the precedence of people.

If you can create mutually beneficial outcomes whenever possible, and trust in the edict of "people before profit," you will realize a leadership legacy far greater than monetary gain. The finest leaders offer associates not only a sense of purpose, but also a sense of care, concern, and connection.

Here are 25 things I've learned over the last 25 years in business that may help you discover the path to your own leadership legacy:

  1. Know your impact.
  2. Know thyself.
  3. Don't judge, or assume, come to understand.
  4. Develop your people to eventually take your place.
  5. Practice what you preach.
  6. Demonstrate active and fully present listening.
  7. Enhance peoples' positive self-regard every chance you get.
  8. Ask for help.
  9. Be vulnerable.
  10. Analyze the data, but trust your gut.
  11. Ask your employees how you can best serve them.
  12. Create the vision, enlist the help of others, and then let them execute it.
  13. Be transparent.
  14. Focus on the big picture.
  15. Have the courage to do what you know needs to be done.
  16. Express gratitude and appreciation for all.
  17. Provide a hand up -- not a handout.
  18. Boost commitment, not just compliance.
  19. Provide stretch opportunities for your team that allows them to learn new skills.
  20. Show compassion where warranted.
  21. Ask more questions and talk less.
  22. Coach and mentor versus command and control.
  23. Build trust by upholding integrity.
  24. Say thank you, and genuinely mean it.
  25. Say you are sorry, and genuinely mean it.