What will they say when you are gone?

Written by Charlie Efford

Photo by Christine Matthews

When you hand over the reins of power, safe in the knowledge that your name has been inscribed on the honours board, what would you really like those who followed you to remember?  Do you think your legacy will come up to scratch?

A 360 degree exit questionnaire would be perfect at this point – but only if you really wanted to know!

So how would you like to be remembered?

  • The leader who doubled the profits
  • The leader who turned the company around
  • The leader who ran a tight ship
  • The leader who made a difference to people’s lives

I could go on – but let me first check whether you think your legacy is important?

If it is then I would like to probe a little deeper. Some more questions if you don’t mind:

  • Why is your legacy important? – and whose opinion matters?
  • What impact does your leadership have?
  • Do you ever stand back and wonder what life is all about?

The first question is asking you to consider the principles and beliefs that guide your leadership. Are you simply acting to please the shareholders or do you serve a higher sense of purpose as well?

The second question is asking you to reflect on the impact you have on your organisation – in particular on the people who work there. How do you affect their lives?

The third question is asking whether you ever stand back from the pressures of day to day existence – and question whether making money and maximising profit is really what life is all about.

The leaders I remember are the ones who touched my life with their presence. They invariably had high standards and were uncompromising in their approach. They were good at what they did and they stood out because they cared deeply about me and those around me. I was challenged and cared for in equal measure and I grew as a result.

Leadership is a privilege with great responsibility and you have the opportunity to choose what your legacy will be. What you leave behind you is your choice. To help you decide, let me leave with you with a powerful thought:

For the first time in human history, we have the resources and technology to end all human suffering. All we lack is the willpower to make it happen.

What will you be remembered for?

About the author

Charlie Efford


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