Our life on this earth is limited, and how we live it matters. Some of the most important questions a leader needs to ask himself are ‘What do I want people to say at my funeral?’, “How do you want people to remember you?”,”What difference do you want to make?”
When we come to the end of our lives the word -legacy matters most, and as an executive, you have a very short period to create your “executive legacy.” CEOs are not permanent fixtures. In today’s markets -no job lasts forever, employees move on, and CEOs walk away more frequently than ever.
But no matter the reason for your departures, nearly all executives and CEOs share one common desire, their “Executive Legacy.”
When you arrive at the end of your life one day, “someone will summarise your life in one sentence.” The same applies to the CEO. As you reach the end of your working career, what will that one sentence be that people will remember you by?
BE A LEADER?
Most CEOs simply work, they don’t lead. Legacy leaders create a lasting impact by intentionality – how they will lead in their working career. Don’t allow you work to lead you; you must lead your work.
Most CEOs concentrate on making their quarterly growth targets. Legacy leaders focus on both their immediate reality but are distinguished by their conviction, regarding the futuristic success of the organisation.
It’s All In The Questions
Legacy Leaders ask questions such as,
“How can we build the kind of advantage that will allow this company to thrive for decades in my absence?” or,
“How will we develop the next generation of leaders, and groom them for challenges that can’t yet be imagined?” or,
“How can we create a leadership pipeline that caters for the development of the new emerging giants – women in leadership?”
When a leader asks these questions, it’s a sign that you are serving titan! A Leader’s Lasting Value is Measured By Succession -not by some projects he completed or by some institution he has started, but by the many people, he has invested (poured out) his life in.
Legacy leaders seek not only the success of the company but their people. To migrate from success to significance, they are constantly thinking of their legacy.
So is there a secret to building a celebrated executive legacy–especially in an era of shorter tenure?
Here are Four Principles I hope Will Inspire You:
1. Decide What Legacy You Want to Create
To create a powerful legacy with your life, you need to decide what contribution you want to make to the world, or to your company. Most people simply accept their lives. Legacy leaders lead their lives. They create a lasting impact by intentionality and being proactive about how they will lead and live.
To achieve this you will need to know how you want to lead and live. This will require some reflecting on the following questions:
If you knew with certainty that you only had nine more years to live on this earth or nine more months to work in your position as CEO, how would you spend this time and why?
What message do you want to send with your life to the world and to those who matter most to you?
Imagine that you are attending your own funeral. What would you want your family and friends to say about you and how you lived your life?
2. Start Creating Your Legacy Now
It is one thing to know what you want to leave behind and another to actually live it. Most people make a mistake by living their lives as if they have unlimited time. We all have a limited time in this life and at our jobs. If you want to create and leave a legacy, you must live it first now!
Don’t waste your life, waiting for the right person to show up, right opportunity to come to you or the right moment to happen.
Decide to make things happen. Be a person who makes things happen.
Look over your answers to the questions from Point 1. Based on your answers to those questions, identify three to five specific goals you can set for creating the legacy that you want.
Then, for each goal, figure out the first step you can take and start taking it today!
3. Choose Who Will Carry on Your Legacy
Your position is not permanent. You are in that position for a reason and a season, and a big part of that reason is -making way for others to come after you.
Your duty to the company is to:
Proactively search out individuals who will come in once you are gone.
Extend the invitation to such people, train and mentor them, create experiences for them and as you transition out, at the same time they transition up.
This is what legacy leaders strive for in every area of life. If you fail to invest in other gifted individuals who will carry it on, your legacy will die with you.
If you are passionate about something, I challenge you to find someone who will continue once you get tired or called to something else.
Best time to do so is while you’re still in the game!
4. Make Sure You Pass the Baton
Don’t throw the baton, pass on the baton. The next generation should not have to look for it. Your duty is to pass it on securely.
Unfortunately, most people are so worried about their positions, achievements and seeing the glory of their accomplishments to fade, that they fail to pass the baton to others.
What most people define as great leadership is actually failed leadership,
All because they died with the baton in their hands,
Resulting in a great leadership deficit.
Our ability as leaders will not be measured by the buildings we built, institutions we established, but by how well the people we invested in carried on after we are gone.
“A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.” John Maxwell.