What Legacy Would You Leave Behind If You Left Your Company Today?

What Legacy Would You Leave Behind If You Left Your Company Today? 960 641 C-Suite Network

After the first part of a recent workshop, one of the senior leaders approached me and offered this confession: “Based on what I learned today, I have been a horrible leader for ten years. I have wasted so much time leading from a transactional standpoint. Checking the boxes on my to-do list and moving things forward. I never thought about my ability to impact the business by truly appreciating the individual – including myself as an individual!”

I wasn’t shocked by his words. When people like me do our jobs, it forces leaders to confront their mindsets about our topics. In my case, we were talking about individuality and influence. But confronting a mindset is one thing – changing it is another. We all have fallen victim to the “Monday Morning Effect” from workshops – jazzed by the possibilities that are forgotten when the stress of every day work returns. Would this person be a victim? Did he feel – not just understand – the significance of what he was saying? I pushed him to think a little more.

“So if you retire today what legacy would you leave behind?”

He thought for a moment and then said, “One of disappointment, for focusing on what I am responsible for and being so insensitive around who I am responsible for as a leader.”

What did this leader then tell me what he had been responsible for? The transaction. He had an execution mindset around success alone, not the legacy mindset around significance.

Legacy is about the reinvention of growth, and this leader like all the leaders in the room – and thus their companies – had forgotten about how leadership plays a role in making sure that what we do goes beyond the next sale or deal. Legacy is not defined by how much you sell. That may determine your success but legacy is about significance and goes beyond the bottom line. Legacy is also not measured by how much you undo the legacy of the people who came before you, as is the current state of our political affairs with the repeated efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act.

Legacy is how you impact others in the workplace, marketplace, and community long-term.


Leaders must think of their legacies as something more holistic – something that influences beyond selfish gain and what side of the aisle you are on. But like that leader I spoke to, they often don’t. Leaders instead think linearly about the transaction and too many will walk away with the same…