In the end, nothing will matter as much as the legacy you leave behind. Successful leaders tend to focus on the future, on five-year plans and long-term strategy. It takes a conscious effort to create and leave an intentional legacy and shape what will be remembered from your time in a position of leadership.
The definition of “legacy” includes so much more than merely what you leave behind or what you pass on to the next executive to fill your position. Your legacy can be a gift and an example for the next generation of leaders who share your vision of the future. The sum of your words and actions leaves an indelible legacy that defines what you valued during your tenure.
Whether you are intentional and involve yourself in the process or not, your legacy is being created. If you are a leader who is proactive, intentional, and motivated to ensure that what you leave behind is aligned with your values than you need to take an active role in this process. Creating a legacy needs to be a proactive process of actively promoting the words and actions that will define your legacy.
Fortunately for those leaders who are proactive and intentional about the legacy they want to leave behind, a new and unexpected ally in crafting a legacy-building strategy turns out to be your existing social media profile. Conversely, social media is a double-sided knife and for those leaders who are passive and un intentional about their legacy, social media can be unkind if not strategically utilized. Many leaders have found this out with as little as a misinterpreted Tweet.
In the social media channels that you use most frequently, there will be a permanent and very public record of what matters most to you. Never before have leaders had such a powerful platform for making sure that their true voices are being heard. As such, the issues that you decide to engage with and how you communicate your point of view on those issues must be aligned with your vision, goals and values as a leader. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may not exist in the future, similar social media channels will be with us for a long time to come as the world becomes more connected.
There are three crucial questions to keep in mind as you determine how to best make use of social media as both a component and an extension of your legacy:
- Identify what you stand for in the greater scheme of things. Don’t get caught up in squabbles. Continually strive to enlarge the discussion with strategic and tactical thinking.
- Clearly establish how you want others to perceive you. Sculpting your legacy begins by discovering what people say and remember about you right now. Try to find a colleague who can provide honest feedback with hard truths. Your legacy doesn’t care one bit about injuring your ego.
- Examine your network carefully. Be intentional about both who you communicate with and how those conversations resolve. Who you follow, who your followers are, and how you comment are all pieces of the puzzle. Decide what format of social media is best for various kinds of announcements and communications i.e. when posting is better than tweeting or blogging. Pause (do you really want to say that) before you post. And when you post, make every interaction count.
The amazing thing about building a legacy is that it is one of the few things in life that gets easier as you get older. As you take more control over your social media communications, your vision, your values and your fan base become more clear-cut. The sooner you start, the greater impact you can have on how the future and world regards your accomplishments.