In The Course Of Your Leadership, How Do You Pay It Forward?

So much goes into our leadership and development — for the present, future….AND past.

We take years of education and experiences, and combine them to get who we are today. It is up to us to take into consideration what is in our past and utilize it to our benefit, to determine what it is that made us who we are.

Not everyone will have the same experiences. Our lives are as different from each other as our looks.  Although we might utilize our experiences differently and take different lessons away from them, some will not benefit from the experiences that others have had.  They won’t get the opportunity to experience certain things and therefore never get the chance to learn from those types of experiences.

“Great leadership is not only about the technical work and mission of your group or organization, but also about instilling a certain mindset in others, fostering critical thinking, and encouraging self-assessment and development”

In reinforcing our own leadership, if we’ve had great and beneficial experiences, we should do two things with them. First, we should learn from them and take them as lessons learned for our future advantage. Second, we need to share those experiences — and the benefits — with others.

It is powerful for a leader to point out the benefit in the experiences those who learn from them can take from the current environment as well as lessons learned and benefits reaped from the leader’s past. So, leadership is not only about learning lessons from the current environment but also providing lessons from the past, especially if something benefited the leader.

Related Post: Free Leadership Learning Tool: Learn By Comparing Your Bosses  

How often have we wished someone would provide a certain level of detail, attention, or support to us? We know the benefits we have reaped in an environment where someone provided and afforded us those things. Why wouldn’t we pay those experiences forward by conveying the advice or fostering a certain type of environment to those who look to us as leaders?

Aside from sharing what was learned from someone else in the past, what other lessons have you learned organically on your own, through your own experience, which you can also share with those you lead?

“…leadership is not only about learning lessons from the current environment but also providing lessons from the past, especially if something benefited the leader.”

Great leadership is not only about the technical work and mission of your group or organization, but also about instilling a certain mindset in others, fostering critical thinking, and encouraging self-assessment and development. It is about getting people to think about the bigger picture, the one which may not be so obvious in the day-to-day operations.

In paying it forward, share such background, when possible about

Where you learned the lesson…

This point provides context of the environment in which you learned the lessons. It may have been in an completely different environment to the one where you are now, but it’s important to know that certain, general leadership lessons are transferable across industries and fields.

Who it was that shared the lesson with you…

More context is provided through this information as it paints a clear picture of who it was who provided you with the information. The people that provide us our lessons can come from different demographics as well as levels of leadership. There may be instances where the best lessons learned didn’t come from leadership. It’s important to know to others that leadership lessons are everywhere.

How you have benefitted from the lesson…

Obviously, the meat of the lesson, this piece outlines how you have made the most of the lesson and how well it has served you in the time since you were first provided the lesson. Someone else can learn from you what you gained from the lesson that would have happened on its own, once you became aware of the lesson, or what steps you took once you understood more based on your lesson. Sharing this information provides an understanding of what is possible in what we carry out, using someone else’s lessons.

Any adjustments you would make to the lesson based on your experience….

Probably the biggest lesson is how you might adjust the advice or lesson to suit your own needs. It’s important for us to know that advice is not all 100% take it or leave it. One of the most important things about receiving lessons or advice of any kind is how we customize it to our own experience. Even if the main goal of the advice is not pertinent or workable to our own needs, there are pieces in the lesson, which we may be able to take away to refine our own endeavors and approach.

“It is up to us to take into consideration what is in our past and utilize it to our benefit, to determine what it is that made us who we are.”


History provides lessons, and that includes our own history. There may be stories we may remember from our own past, which we believe carry no lessons or merit, but in which others may find value.

There are lessons we can take from the environments we worked in previously as well as from how our own expectations, needs, and desires have shifted and adjusted in our professional and personal evolution.

Related Post: On Your Way Up Through Your Career, Keep Reflecting On Your Past 

These are lessons we may have taken for granted from the past but which would serve others and ourselves well to consider today.

So…What About You?

  • What from your past may you have forgotten or taken for granted, which could serve you and others well today?
  • How do you share your lessons from the past – do you wait until they are needed or do you preempt their need for others to keep in mind until such time that they are needed?
  • How do you provide lessons forward which may have come from different industries or environments?

Thanks for Sharing! Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on Google+Email this to someone

Leave a Reply

Share CiO
Hide Buttons