You always leave a footprint
Wherever you walk, you will always leave a footprint. Some sort of mark that indicates you were here.
Leaders also leave footprints – consciously or unconsciously - and these footprints have massive impact not only on their own future, but also the future of the team or organization which they have been leading.
Your leadership footprint is not something unmanageable, coincidentally happening as you move along. It is something you should manage for the benefit of yourself, your team and the organization that you work with.
More than short term + short term + short term….
You can think of the footprint as ‘what you will be remembered for’ the day you leave. It is not just the sum of your short-term achievements and day-to-day tasks, although they also impact.
Try thinking of former colleagues or managers, and consider what first comes to your mind:
… made a great change in the way of doing XYZ
…side-stepped whenever we proposed a change – wanted to stay with the current
…only ran for the short-term numbers
…was lazy yet demanding, only trying to please his own senior manager
…took us to a whole new level in our way of…
…installed a true customer-centric approach throughout the entire team
…made the financial reporting to the market much more lean, reducing time-to-report from 7 to 3 weeks
…improved our way of managing xyz…
Things like these are the kinds of footprints, that we all leave behind. And nothing in the list is related to the short term and day-to-day job of getting things done or to making the weekly, monthly or quarterly numbers. It relates to the changes and improvements made (or not made!) during the tenure of that leader.
It’s about your future
Whether you have a conscious direction for your own leadership footprint or not, it has a massive impact on your own future, no matter whether you plan to stay in your current role / organization, or you plan to change job.
It helps you in your current job
Imagine your current role and the team you are working with, and try (although difficult) to imagine how things would work, if you were doing everything in the same way, as it was done 10 years ago.
I assume things have changed – not only because of technology, but also because leaders throughout the last 10 years have orchestrated change and improvement.
If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got
The 10-year horizon is of course a bit of an extrapolation, but if you want things to work smarter next week, month, quarter or next year – you – as the leader are in charge of setting out that direction, and to help you team making it happen.
A conscious direction for your own leadership footprint helps you and the team achieve results tomorrow: It is an here-and-now investment in making changes, which pays off by helping you making better results tomorrow.
By doing so, efforts will pay off:
Improvements that you make this quarter, will make it easier to reach results in the next quarter.
It helps you change job
Imagine sitting in a job interview, discussing what achievements you have made in the current job:
…you did all the day-to-day assignments (and hit the numbers, if measured on numbers)
…you did the day-to-day stuff, and gradually over time improved X, Y and Z
Clearly, the latter makes more sense and has higher value as you not only achieved what was expected on a day to day level, but also took a slightly longer view, and made gradual improvements as you went along.
Additionally, the heritage you leave behind with former colleagues and managers also indicates what they may tell recruiters or potential new managers when asked to give a recommendation about you.
Have a look in the mirror...
Is your footprint the result of your own conscious choice, or is it happening by coincidence?
Do you have a clear direction for your personal leadership footprint – something you want to improve?