The Heart of Leadership: Making a Lasting Impact

In this post, I want to dive into a powerful quote that resonates deeply with me: “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” These wise words come from none other than Sheryl Sandberg, and they encapsulate a principle that I hold close to my heart—one that is at the core of mindful leadership. Have you ever heard someone vengefully boast, “They’ll be sorry when I leave.” Or “Just wait and see- things will all fall apart without me.”? Well, here’s the truth: if things crumble once you’re gone, you might not have done your job as a leader. Leadership isn’t about creating a temporary house of straw; it’s about building something that stands the test of time. Throughout my career, I’ve embraced the idea of mentoring my team, especially my direct reports. It’s not just about leading and managing while you’re around; it’s about equipping others with the leadership skills and knowledge to step up when you step out. I’m proud to say that in most cases where someone aspired to climb the ladder of leadership, they’ve been ready and confident to apply for the job. And most of them were promoted. There’s a unique satisfaction in knowing you’ve crafted something that outlasts your own presence. Now, here’s the head-scratcher: Why do some folks want their organization or department to fall once they bid adieu? I think it all boils down to that tricky little thing called ego. Ego can be a potent force, especially when it operates in the shadows of our awareness. I often say the ego is the most fragile part of us- easily bruised and broken with mere words. Being a mindful leader means being self-aware. It’s about recognizing that leadership isn’t a one-person show; it’s an ensemble where everyone plays a vital role. If you find yourself secretly wishing for chaos to break out after you leave, it might be time to check that ego at the door. True leaders understand that their legacy isn’t measured by the chaos left behind but by the sustainable impact they’ve created. So, here’s to mindful leadership—building something that lasts, empowering others, and leaving a positive mark that echoes long after you’ve moved on. Follow me on social media @drtheresarickekiely on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. #mindfulleadership #nonprofitleadership Watch for my upcoming book on mindful nonprofit leadership coming soon!