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  • BY ELAINE LANKFORD

Enhancing Your Leadership Legacy by Giving Back

I think it’s fair to say that we would all like to be remembered someday. The problem is what will we be remembered for what is our leadership legacy?


Fact, leaders who start their leadership journey with the end in mind make the most impact within their circle of influence. Whether it is improving the local community we live in or reaching others across the globe with highly valuable services, connecting to others on a deep level and changing the trajectory of their lives seems to be what most of us are after. Striving toward a goal bigger than ourselves allows us to constantly expand our vision, see opportunities in front of us before they fully manifest, and most importantly help serve others better. And in return, we build a legacy that will most likely far outlive our actions. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?"


two women hugging
How Do You Enhance Your Leadership Legacy by Giving Back?

So, I ask you, have you given much thought to how you will be remembered once you are gone? Some famous celebrities have given us a smile at their departure from earth and at the same time reminded us of their legacies. For instance, Rodney Dangerfield’s epitaph reads “There goes the neighborhood” and Jackie Gleason’s tombstone states: “And away we go.” Others, such as Richard Nixon, have left us with more serious thoughts in which to convey their leadership legacy. His epitaph reads: “The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.”


The truth of the matter is that whether we want to claim a legacy or not, we all have one that we will leave behind. Jim Rohn once said: “All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.”


For me, I do want to be remembered as the girl who while reaching up to obtain her goals, also reached back to pull another woman up. And honestly, if that’s all that people remember about me, I would be thrilled, but why stop there? Why not be known as a female influencer who started an international sisterhood that genuinely loves on and builds future generations of women leaders. Why not be known as the person who launched thousands of female entrepreneurs into business, ministry, or nonprofit work both here in the United States and in Africa. Why not be known as the fair skin lady who went to Africa and loved a little boy named Justin, gave to the orphanage faithfully as he grew, and cheered when a beautiful Kenyan family later adopted him? I am determined that my leadership legacy will be synonymous with the words: “Above all else, she was a giver.” This is the leadership legacy I am working to leave behind!


“The great men and women of history were not great because of what they earned and owned. They were great because they gave themselves to people and causes that lived beyond them. Their dream was to do something that benefited others.” John Maxwell

Today, take some time to start with the end of your leadership legacy in mind. Reflect on the who, what, where, how, and why model for sketching out your leadership impact in the here and now as well as what you hope it will look like long after you’re gone.


What steps will you take to bridge the gap between today’s reality and tomorrow’s future when it comes to enhancing your leadership legacy through the power of giving back? There is no doubt that the more we embrace giving back to others, the longer our legacy will live on because in the giving, lasting feeling is created. As Maya Angelou so elegantly put it: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Hey world changer, what’s your leadership legacy going to be? You’ve got some thinking to do!


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Meet the expert:

Elaine is the founder of She Steps Forward Ministries, now branded She Steps Forward Coaching. She Steps Forward Coaching is helping to launch confident, successful Christian female entrepreneurs with targeted strategic plans so they can build sustainable businesses, ministries, and nonprofits. As a certified John Maxwell Team member, Elaine offers her coaching services to female entrepreneurs who desire a faith-based approach that is individualized to their unique needs when building their business, ministry, or nonprofit. Elaine is also the founder and executive director of She Steps Forward International, a nonprofit working to equip both American and African women to lead businesses, ministries, and nonprofits and positively impact their communities.


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