, , , ,


Let’s say you are a manager who has worked in an organization for a number of years. You have worked hard to create new processes and systems that assure that your division is working at top efficiency. You have developed a policy manual, written rules, and if you happen to be in government, you have written ordinances, resolutions, and helped create laws that reflect the desires of the community. And, today you receive an attractive offer to go to another organization.

You have enjoyed your work, put your heart and mind into the tasks of creating a great organization. You feel invested in the success of your current employer. But, this offer is too good to pass up.

As you pick up the phone to make the call accepting the offer you pause to think about what will happen to the people and systems you are leaving behind. You think about your legacy.

You thought may be that things will be just fine. After all, you created the right rules, and set up the right processes. What could possibly happen?

Six months after you leave you run into a team member from your old company. The first thing out of her mouth is “Why did you leave? Everything has changed. It’s not the same place without you.”

This does not take you by surprise. After all, the manager they hired to replace you changed all of the systems, rules, and processes.

Your say, “Yes, I have heard that the systems all changed. We had it running pretty well before I left, didn’t we.”

But your friend says, “It’s not about systems and processes. The new ones work as well as the old. It’s about how we work together, how we communicate, and how we feel about the organization. It’s about what is valued, and our pride in our work.”

And, this is when you learn about your legacy.

All of this time you were thinking that the things you built, the words you wrote, the rules or laws you helped create, the way you made things run, was your legacy – what you were passing on to the next generation.

But, in reality, your legacy was found in the minds you touched, the values you instilled, the environment you created, and in your authenticity, your ethics, your vision, and your courage.

Systems and rules can be changed. Structures can be torn down or sold. Political tides can (and will) ebb and flow. Corporate climate can change. None of these contain your legacy.

The only thing you leave behind with any certainty is what is carried in the hearts and minds of those you have touched.

Use your time wisely, for whether it is long or short, it is not unlimited. Give those who will carry on when you step out of the organization the gift of a legacy that will serve them well when they stand in your shoes.

For another look at the concept of legacy, you might enjoy this blog entry found on the Fast Company web site – What Is Your Leadership Legacy by Craig Chappelow

Original post

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Andrew Krzmarzick

People over processes. I definitely agree that the most rewarding endeavor in an organization is to coach talent and build up people. But I also think that creating better processes and improving the organization as a whole is a worthwhile effort that makes it a better place for people to work.

Still – your thoughts here are a clarion call to leaders who are more “task-oriented” vs. “people-oriented.”

Mark Hammer

That’s actually quite touching and sweet, and in a way comforting. Not that one takes comfort, as such, from any disruption created. But comforting in the sense that one’s “legacy” at work really is the working relationships and rapport. I can think of a number of former colleagues, now retired, whose way of doing things, or seeing things, I try to keep alive.

Zahra Z. Hashmi

How true and yet seems many have fogotten. We all will leave behind either good or bad. It is our choice. We all spend long hours of everyday lives with our colleagues and managers. what is so difficult to decide how to use that time at work? It makes sense and should come naturally to spend these hours on positive interactions that is enhancing with positive and lasting enrichment of people around you. And this shall not be limited only to workplace. This shall be integral part of life at any plance and any environment. Remember the choice is yours to be remembered “good or bad.”

Cheri Allen

Leadership Legacy – inculcating a way of leading on a daily, consistent basis by a leaders actions, interactions, and way of being, such that this way of being seamlessly remains from a previous leader, and and exists and is willingly manifested by the succeeding leader or group of colleagues. We often think of leaving a leadership legacy, however I challenge all of us to remember we build and create our leadership legacy one day at a time, one action at a time, one interaction at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time. I believe leadership is a relationship and management is just a position or title. Most people have the capability of building positive, authentic relationships if they choose to. Free will is a beautiful gift, how will you decide to use it today, tomorrow?

Someone mentioned rapport, and I just read a communication affirmation (from the Author Stephen Gaffney) for today, Oct 25th – Rapport is not a beginning stage to a conversation, it is a way of being throught the conversation. Activity: Think of someone you are out of rapport with and look for ways to get into and stay in rapport throughout the conversation.”

Let us all add another building block to our effective, authentic, leadership legacy today…yes even while we are still remaining in our organizations!

Jeff Ribeira

Great post. There’s more that goes into successful management than just one’s ability to get things done. Anyone (or even a computer) could implement and enforce programs and processes. This story to me shows that it’s just as much an issue of one’s character and personality as it is talent and/or ability that dictates the success of a manager.

niki o'keeffe

Thank you Jim

This resonates with my personal experience in the public and private sector. Good reminder in the current enviornment.