Leaders Create Legacies
During the past two weeks, I have been thinking about legacies.
I saw two friends pass away during these two weeks, one from ALS and one from cancer. It is tough to participate in a series of Zoom memorial services for two friends during the same week.
My reflections prompted me to think about the legacies we have the opportunity to create as leaders, regardless of our work environments. None of us will work at the same organization forever.
Have you made time to think about the legacy you wish to leave when you retire from your current leadership role or move on to a different organization? I hope so.
Our legacies do not just happen – we must assertively create them.
I encourage you to try this exercise. I have been using it with workshop participants for many years.
Imagine your own retirement party as you prepare to leave your present leadership position. It matters not how many years you have worked there.
You are surrounded by family members, friends, colleagues and clients. The air is festive and the love for you is flowing.
They have set up a stage at the front of the room for speakers at your celebration. Five people have been asked to talk about you and the positive impact you have made on people and your department or organization.
Who would you want to speak at your retirement party?
Family? Friends? Your manager? Your direct reports? Your closest colleagues?
Select the names of the five people. Write them down.
Next to each name, write a short tribute statement you would like them to make about you.
What kind of leader were you?
What kind of manager?
What kind of colleague?
How did you treat people?
After you complete these tribute statements, review them several times. Make edits if you like. Share them with a trusted friend or colleague.
Then ask yourself this critical question:
What could you do, starting tomorrow, to make all these tribute statements come true?
I was fortunate to live out this scenario when I retired as Assistant Dean for Continuing Legal Education at Georgetown Law in 2017.
The speakers were deans, faculty members and colleagues with whom I had worked for many years. My two adult sons were the concluding speakers.
Life is short, my friends. Our careers go by quickly. Go out tomorrow and start making your tribute statements a reality.
You will be glad you did.