Lessons on Leadership: Building a Business Legacy

I get passionate about helping others succeed. This passion is the thread that’s been running through the length of my career thus far; as I’ve built and managed companies across the tech, media and finance fields, I’ve found that nothing matches the sense of fulfillment that comes from sharing my knowledge and mentoring other entrepreneurs.

From this experience, I’ve gleaned some universal truths about leadership. They’re nothing new, really — as you will see from the accompanying quotes, people have been writing about them for centuries.

Today I share them with you, as you work on building your own legacy. As we continue to strive to leave an impact on the world, may these thoughts guide us all.

Leaders Inspire Their Teams

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Solid leadership is built on the ability to inspire people. It is not fear-based, but encouraging and supportive. The ability to pull people together to work toward the same goal — and to maintain that momentum, day in and day out — is the cornerstone of leadership. Without it, nothing sustainable can be built.

Leaders Foster Strengths Across Their Organization

Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.

– Bill Bradley

Everyone is happier when they use their strengths. Guide your people to the source of their strengths and empower them to use those strengths in the course of their jobs. They will reward you in return with work that is unmatched in inspiration and ingenuity.

Leaders Lead by Example

A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

– John C. Maxwell

Leaders don’t just tell people what to do; they live it themselves. If I want integrity from my employees, I must act with integrity myself, in every action, no matter how small it seems.

When others see you taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable, they know that your actions reflect the unique values and beliefs of the organization as a whole. They are then inspired to believe in and work toward the same goals.

Leaders Take Risks and Make Mistakes

Only those who play win. Only those who risk win. History favors risk-takers. Forgets the timid. Everything else is commentary.

– Iveta Cherneva

No one builds anything worthwhile without some risk. Risk is, simply, inherent to leadership, and it always precedes growth. And here’s the truth: With risk comes error. Mistakes are made. Sometimes, they’re costly. Then what?

You regroup, you find the lesson, and you move on. Anyone can find fault, but can you find a remedy? Can you use what you’ve learned to inform future decision-making? It’s OK to fail. Ships are safe in harbor, goes the wisdom from John A. Shedd, but that’s not what ships are built for. Get out there and try again.

What Kind of Leadership Legacy Are You Leaving?

No matter what stage of business you’re in, we want to know the most valuable leadership lessons you’ve learned. Tweet @StartNoise to let us know.