Legacy has historically been mostly referred to in the context of our personal lives - providing for our children is one of the most traditional meanings associated with it. Interestingly enough, even though we on average spend 90'000 hours at work during our lifetime according to the Gettysburg College, we rarely think about legacy in the context of our professional lives. We'll explore what modern legacy means beyond the narrow context of our beloved ones - namely in our careers.
The NEW EXECUTIVE LEGACY
The ideal image of powerful leadership has however significantly changed and we need to start catching up. In order to be considered truly successful as a leader, a positive bottom line is just not good enough any more. There needs to be a long-term positive impact on the people and the planet. Exceptional leaders of today are masters in the Art of Executive Legacy.
With the average CEO tenure of approximately five years for FTSE 100 companies, as reported by PwC, many business leaders don't have a lot of time to create a sustainable impact in their role. Furthermore, majority of the CEOs, when surveyed, respond that not enough consideration is given to long term strategy due to short term pressures. This is why it is important that they start thinking about legacy from the moment their first walk into their office.
Legacy can mean many different things - before you move on to execution, it is important to clearly define what it means to you. Here are some great exploratory questions to begin with:
#1 UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION: What is the unique contribution that you feel called to give? The one that very few others would be able to do in a comparable manner? This is often something you are already recognized for and it is most probably part of your personal brand already.
#2 LONG-TERM IMPACT: What is it that impact you want to have long term? The one that would remain long after you have moved on to their next adventure.
#3 MEANINGFUL INVESTMENT: Finally, what is it that they would look back to, that would make you feel like you had a truly meaningful career? What would give you a peace of mind that you invested at least portion of your time and energy into something that truly mattered?
The sweet spot of a truly powerful legacy is usually a combination of all the above. It often means leveraging your professional expertise in a manner that is different from the way you do it in your daily job. Some leaders even decide to expand their area of expertise and acquire additional skills in order to achieve an impact that is meaningful to them.
So here is a the legacy challenge:
What is the one thing are you great at that you can leverage in a way that not only benefits your daily business but also leaves a long term footprint in your environment?