Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


The Official Baldrige Blog

What Will Your Workplace Legacy Be?

great leader

I must admit, I never really pondered this question. Until last week, when I came across an article entitled A Fake Crisis, Leadership and You. The article presents the boss who always develops a sudden crisis late in the afternoon that keeps you working into the night. It goes on to talk about the characteristics of such a leader and contrasts them with the characteristics of a great leader.

The article finishes with asking what kind of leader you are. It makes the telling point that "we generally judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviors." I suddenly realized that I have probably been guilty of this duality myself. We have the obvious ability to get feedback on our behaviors vs. our intentions as leaders through employee surveys that ask questions about supervisors and leaders. But, do we ask the right questions and do we analyze the results? Furthermore, isn't this duality true for all employees?

I soon realized this is a global truism, not just a truism for leaders. We all are leaders at some level and all colleagues to many in our organization. And we all probably judge ourselves by our intentions and our colleagues by their behaviors. Furthermore, we all have the ability to get 360 degree feedback (formal or informal) that we can use to evaluate how well we perform relative to our intentions.

This all led me to try to define my leadership intentions. I challenged myself to limit my intentions to a maximum of a half dozen well-chosen words or short phrases. So for those who are curious, here they are (in alphabetical order) with a description of what each intention/value means to me:

  1. Caring —I truly care about the well-being of my colleagues. When it comes to important family matters vs important work issues, family always comes first.
  2. Ethical — I must personally demonstrate the values of the organization and exhibit high personal ethics. I must be a role model for what I espouse. I must walk the talk. I have to build trusting relationships.
  3. Innovation engine — I want to be an innovator, generate ideas, and take intelligent risks. However, even more importantly, I need to set the environment that encourages those around me to propose ideas and innovate.
  4. Leader — I must be able to communicate a compelling vision and engage/empower colleagues to work with me to achieve it. When tough decisions must be made, if needed I must be willing to stand alone.
  5. Learner — I am committed to lifelong learning. It helps me stay vital and be a valued contributor. I am committed to sharing my knowledge and setting an environment that encourages my colleagues to learn and to share their knowledge.
  6. Systems thinker — While intrigued by data and analysis, I must be able to step back and look at the bigger picture, to synthesize and draw knowledge and meaning from data. I must be able to integrate information to see organizational and environmental implications.

That's my list. What is yours? If you want some ideas to spark your thinking, try looking at the Baldrige-based leadership behaviors and attributes.

And in keeping with actual behaviors vs. intentions, I am open to feedback!  

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

Related posts


Thank you for sharing this amazing list.
Thanks you very much. ...

Add new comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Please be respectful when posting comments. We will post all comments without editing as long as they are appropriate for a public, family friendly website, are on topic and do not contain profanity, personal attacks, misleading or false information/accusations or promote specific commercial products, services or organizations. Comments that violate our comment policy or include links to non-government organizations/web pages will not be posted.