3 Ways to Leverage Positions of Leadership to Effectively Pay It Forward 

Start where you are.  Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe 

If you are in a position of leadership, chances are you didn’t get there on your own. Along the way, people have believed in you, invested in you, and supported you. You may not have always been in a position to pay these people back, but you are certainly in a position to pay it forward.  

Sharon E. Jones, author of Mastering the Game: Strategies for Career Success, says, “Use the skills, knowledge, and resources you have to serve others in need and causes that are important to you.” Here are her recommended strategies to leverage a leadership position to effectively pay it forward:  

1Mentor and Vouch for Junior Professionals  

One way to pay it forward is by mentoring and vouching for junior professionals behind you. You have accumulated a wealth of knowledge over time as you successfully advanced in your company. You can mentor junior employees and help them strategically navigate the company’s written and unwritten rules. You can also help junior professionals within the company by vouching for them, essentially making positive comments about them based on your observations. Your stamp of approval can help make people at your company more comfortable with working with them, especially if they are new or diverse. 

2Leverage Your Network to Help Others 

You can also pay it forward by connecting people to reliable contacts in your network who can help them achieve their goals. Even if you can’t directly help someone, you might know of someone else who can. Be generous with your time and network. If you are viewed as a person who is always taking and never giving, your network will shut down on you. Not only will existing connections fade away, but it will likely be more difficult to make future contacts because of your reputation as a taker. By giving generously within your means, you are viewed more favorably and maintain a strong network. 

3Channel Company Resources to Causes You Care About  

Channeling your organization’s resources toward socially responsible causes you care about is another way to use your status as a leader to pay it forward. You can encourage your company to financially sponsor a not-for-profit cause about which you are passionate. Additionally, you can use your status as a leader to get your organization to pick a particular not-for-profit that matters to you for company-wide community service days. If your company doesn’t have a community service day, consider proposing one as a team-building activity that fosters camaraderie and generates positive publicity for the company.  

Start the Ripple Effect 

As you create the life you have always dreamed of as a leader, make sure that you give back and help the next generation of aspiring professionals. Never forget that you have the power to affect change. Your efforts to pay it forward can motivate the recipients of your generosity to also pay it forward, creating a long-lasting, positive ripple effect.


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