The Legacy Series: What is your Leadership Legacy?
Updated: Apr 17
This series is targeted at leaders who are interested in learning about how to create a legacy. Upon investigation, most leadership legacy resources focus on the organization you are leaving, the financial portfolio you leave behind and even the transition plan to the next leader. It is hard to find one article that focuses on...well...the leader…you!
So, I thought I would put three different legacy paths together in this series to help you discern what might be in your wake and hopefully, in your bow waves as well.
We are starting here, with your Leadership Legacy. It was crafted with the knowing that not many leaders fully retire. We often find consulting gigs, or projects and board to be part of and it’s that blurred line that is worthy of some reflection here.
We often see executives jump into consulting roles as they get closer to the end of their official careers. Some say it’s because they can’t put up with the bureaucracy anymore, others say that their knowledge is antiquated. I imagine it being not so much about these things but a nice big realization that now is the time to live an active life with some work to keep us purpose filled. It feels good to be able to golf for a few weeks between contracts or do some work in the morning and hike for the afternoon.
But as you get closer to day hiking and golf lessons, it behooves you to take some time to reflect the wake you are making. The wake of what you are leaving behind in your own career. Not in your company or in your transition plan. This is about you specifically. Are you known as a hard-ass? A financier that focuses only on cost cutting? The CEO that makes shareholders happy?
List them out if you can – better if you can perhaps ask someone you trust to give you their thoughts as well:
What are the themes in the work you have done?
What do you personally want to be remembered for?
How can you make that truer with the time you have left?
Focusing on your legacy help craft connections between what you want to be remembered for and what themes currently exist. My hope for you is that they are not that far apart. My other hope for you is that what makes it truer gets you excited about your final days in this role.
If this is hard for you to visualize:
What do you really love to do?
What networks are you part of that can make use of those much-loved skills?
What boards would open those doors to help you use those skills more often?
If we thought of semi-retirement as a true career transition (from one job to the next), we can certainly wrap our heads around the idea that what you leave behind is important to your brand. The difference is that now, it’s not just about your brand, you can now focus on things you love to do, the challenges you enjoy strategizing for and the successes that further deepen that important legacy.
You may be a CEO for a technology company however you may also love arctic adventures – what can you do to make both of those things work for you? While being on the Board of a VR Expedition Company is not your idea of fun, know that it all comes down to what are you known for today and what you want to be known for 5 years from now.
What do you need to do today to begin filling the gap between those two things? It should be closer and easier than you think.