What Will Your Leadership Legacy Be?
As a leader, you likely have asked yourself, "How do I want to be remembered as a leader?"
But, perhaps the more important question is, "How will I be remembered as a leader?" The answer to that question is likely going to be based on the valuable lessons you shared with those you led, among other things.
The Kansas City Star newspaper a couple years ago wrote a story about Marion Laboratories and its 60th anniversary. In its heyday, Marion had 3,400 employees with sales of nearly $1 billion and in 1989 merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Ewing Kauffman, fondly known as Mr. K, led Marion during its peak, and is remembered as one of the most effective, influential leaders ever in the Kansas City area.
Former employees quoted in the newspaper article remember Mr. Kauffman as a leader who shared these lessons with them:
- "You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it and if you study your competition."
- "You can't be afraid of trying something"
- "Treat people the way you want to be treated."
- "Those that produce should share in the profits."
- "It doesn't really matter if you have all the money in the world because you can only eat so much lobster and drink so much champagne. But what you cannot do is get back the day you just lived. So celebrate every day, live life to the fullest, and be thankful for those with whom you work and love."
Finally, keep in mind that how you handle yourself during your final months and weeks in power will have a large influence on how you are remembered. As reported in a past issue of Harvard Business Review, research by the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman suggests that influence will be determinative.
Your employees will pay particular attention to how you interact with your successor -- judging whether your congratulations are authentic, your body language is positive, etc. Your graceful exit will only help color your legacy.