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Three Bullets and an Asterisk - What will Your Leadership Legacy Be?

Posted on January 27, 2018 at 11:15 PM


The legacies of Presidents of the United States are often summarized by up to three bullet points and an asterisk in Wikipedia. The bullet points are their main accomplishments. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's legacy is summarized this way in Wikipedia: "brought the United States through the Great Depression and World War II to a prosperous future," and "permanently increasing the power of the president at the expense of Congress." Wikipedia balances out Roosevelt's legacy with a few 'asterisks' this way: "Critics have questioned not only his policies, positions, and the consolidation of power that occurred due to his responses to the crises of the Depression and World War II, but also his breaking with tradition by running for a third term as president. Long after his death, new lines of attack criticized Roosevelt's policies regarding helping the Jews of Europe, incarcerating the Japanese on the West Coast, and opposing anti-lynching legislation."


If Wikipedia summarized your performance in your current job or your career with "three bullets and an asterisk," what would they be? Viewing yourself through that mindset can focus you on the most important things that will help you build the legacy you want.

 

First, identify the three big results you want to achieve in your role. Instead of focusing on a progression of job titles, think about the results you want to get in those jobs. Lyndon B. Johnson offers a useful presidential example here. Wikipedia summarizes Johnson's main results as "historic legislative achievements" in successfully enacting his political agenda into many, significant new laws, such as the Civil Rights Acts, the Clean Air Act, and the Social Security Act.

 

Then focus on downsizing, or deleting, the asterisk on your legacy by addressing the biggest, controversial item in your area. It may mean tackling an important, but not urgent, problem growing on your watch to nip it in the bud before it becomes a stain on your legacy. It might mean making a change in behavior you know that offends other people. The big asterisk on Johnson's legacy, according to Wikipedia, was "his lack of success in the Vietnam War."

 

Start controlling your future legacy today. Focus your time and energy on pushing your few, biggest goals, through to fruition. Tackle the biggest thing in your area of responsibility that may turn into the negative "asterisk" on your career. Your legacy is forever - why not start working on it today? 

Categories: Career Planning, Coaching, People Leadership