Over the past year I have spent a lot of time thinking about and creating what is referred to as my ‘digital footprint’, a term that I have acquired from educator, George Couros. At his website, The Principal of Change, he has an entire page dedicated to ‘My Digital Footprint‘.
Below you will find an excerpt from his “My Digital Footprint” page…
“It is important that we prepare our students to be strong Digital Citizens, so I wanted to highlight my own digital footprint and how I try to contribute to the strong educator community that connects through the Internet.” -George Couros
George Couros definitely pushed me to actively create and curate ‘my digital footprint‘ as a connected educator in the 21st century.
Yet, this work has pushed my thinking in another direction, towards the other ‘footprints‘ that we leave as both educators and leaders. And much like our ‘digital footprint‘, we have to be even more cognizant and reflective of the ‘footprint‘ that we leave on those we lead and serve. It is a vital and necessary process we need to invest in if we are going to increase our capacity to serve at the highest levels.
The ‘footprint‘ that intrigues me the most is the ‘footprint‘ that we leave on those we lead on a daily basis. How our leadership actions affect them on so many different levels in and out of the workplace. And as self-reflective leaders, we have to understand the impact of those actions…and make sure those interactions and ‘footprints‘ are positive. Positive because they reverberate throughout the organization and the lives of everyone within each and every day.
One of the most important ‘footprints‘ is the one that falls on the families of those we lead. Each and every day those in our organizations go home to their families and they take with them many remnants from their day. Mental pieces of our workplace walk in the front door of their homes every afternoon and evening. And we need to truly consider the implications of that statement…our actions as leaders accompany each person home every day! Like a backpack or a briefcase…they accompany them home and through their front door.
Just as our actions on the internet and through social media create and leave our ‘digital footprint‘ for others to see…our leadership choices and actions leave a ‘family footprint‘ on those that we have been entrusted to serve and lead. As our leadership decisions and actions are actively discussed by many through social media…those same decisions and actions are discussed at many a dinner table of those who work and serve in our organizations. And it is our leadership that will determine whether those social media conversations and dinner table discussions are positive or fraught with frustration.
As you reflect on your leadership in the year to come…picture your leadership decisions and actions accompanying those you lead through the front door of their home. Do they enter their home happy and enthused from a engaging and positive work environment? Or do they walk in that door with a frown from the frustrations of a dysfunctional organization?
When we create difficult and dysfunctional work environments, our people often take those same issues home to their own families. Often creating the same cycle in their home. And eventually creating a cycle of dysfunction from the workplace to the home and back again. While we as leaders can’t make everyone happy…we can make decisions that create the best possible ‘footprints‘ in our workplaces and homes.
Something to reflect upon for our future actions, interactions and daily decisions…