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

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

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

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

We should share those lessons with those with whom we work and interact, because we can all benefit from each other’s past lessons.

It is the variety across our collective experiences that provides the broad advantage.

Our lives are as different from each other as our looks, so not everyone will have the same experiences.  And because of the variety of our experiences and the various ways in which we utilize them, not everyone will benefit from the same type of experiences. This is because, first, we all don’t have identical experiences, and, second, because we each interpret and carry forward our lessons differently.  So, some people 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”

Related Post: What’s In Your Collection? General Leadership Lessons Can Transcend Across The Ages

It is powerful for a leader to point out the benefit those who learn from them can take from the current environment, along with lessons learned and benefits reaped from the leader’s past. This habit can also lead those who are learning to assess and examine their own past.

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

Picture it from another person’s vantage point, or call back on your own experience. How often have we wished someone would provide a certain level of detail, attention, or support to us stemming from their wisdom or experience?

We know the benefits we have reaped in environments where someone did provide and afford us those things. Why wouldn’t we pay our similar experiences forward, by conveying the advice to, or fostering a certain type of environment for, 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 a completely different environment from 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. In addition to levels of leadership, the people who provide us our lessons can come from different backgrounds and specialties. So, there may be instances where the best lessons learned didn’t come from leadership. It’s important to convey to others that leadership lessons are everywhere.

How you have benefited from the lesson…

Obviously, this piece outlines how you have made the most of the lesson and how well it has served you in the time since you learned it. Someone else can learn from you what you gained once you became aware of the lesson and what steps you took once you understood more based on that 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 and needs. 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, to determine what it is that made us who we are, and utilize it to our benefit.”


History provides lessons, and that includes our own history. There may be stories we 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?

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