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January 3, 2014

Career Coach: A year of leadership lessons

— When we review the major events that have occurred over the past year, there are many leadership lessons that we can apply to our daily lives.

We celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela, and replayed his tremendous impact. Like leadership experts James Kouzes and Barry Posner noted in their book, "A Leader's Legacy," Mandela lived by the code that every day you create your legacy. Leaders often forget this. As Mandela showed us, every person, no matter what their station in life, can have an impact on the world around them by the small steps they take each and every day. Like Mandela, they have to make sure that credibility and integrity are at the core of who they are and what they do on a daily basis.

Lessons learned: Integrity is the key foundation. Leave your legacy by the actions you take each day.

Many in the world have been reinvigorated by Pope Francis and his call to a simpler life, modeling, as he says, the life of Jesus. By his focus on humility and acceptance of all people, he turned many people back to the Catholic Church. This illustrates the tremendous impact a leader can have on his or her followers. They have the power to genuinely influence the morale and engagement of their followers. They also have the responsibility to "walk the talk." Much is written about the simple life that Pope Francis lives and the fact that he is willing to get in the trenches with the common folks.

Lessons learned: Leaders need humility; they can't expect their followers to do anything they would not do themselves; leaders can have a deep and lasting impact on their followers by being role models.

Diversity is still an issue in the United States. The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case raised many issues about race and the perceptions and stereotypes we hold regarding others of differing races or ethnicities. We still have a long way to go here, even with the progress we have made over the past few decades.

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