Quick…name the top three people you look to for leadership advice.
I’m willing to bet that Dolly Parton was not on your list…but maybe she should be.
Dolly just celebrated her 75th birthday. You probably know her best as a famous country singer, but there’s so much more to her than what you see on stage.
Here’s what Dolly has to say about leadership:
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”
The Imagination Library is one way that Dolly has put her leadership into action. Recognizing that her father’s inability to read kept him from achieving his dreams, Dolly set out in 1995 to inspire a love of reading in the children of her hometown by providing free books to every child. Fast forward 25 years and add a host of community partners, and the Imagination Library has donated more than 150 million books to children from ages 0-5 in the U.S. and four other countries.
In 2016, Parton’s My People Fund gave $9 million to people who lost their homes to fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. More recently, she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University for research that led to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine now being distributed by Moderna. In addition to her own donations, Dolly used her voice to encourage others to support the cause.
That’s leadership, too.
Where are you creating your leadership legacy?
Perhaps you are inspiring others to dream more…supporting innovation and creativity in your business, your family or your community. Or maybe you’re leading others to learn more, providing access to training in new skills or serving as a mentor to the next generation.
Who are you inspiring to do more…finding ways to lean into more responsibility, greater ownership, increased participation? Is your own leadership journey serving as an example that shows others how to become more and to continue growing personally and professionally?
Leadership starts as an inside job. When you commit yourself to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you inspire others to do the same. That’s your leadership legacy.
In this month when we celebrate women’s history, let’s also celebrate women’s leadership, recognizing the women – famous or not – who inspired us to rise up to be leaders.
Go forth and do great things,
Martha and Chris