Leave a Big Wake Behind You
When exceptional leaders finish their careers or move to another organization after a long tenure, they leave a big wake behind them. A lasting legacy is top of mind for leaders nearing an ending. They implicitly know this legacy will define both who they were, as well as how they will be remembered by the organization.
Contrary to popular wisdom, the legacy for leaders is never found in key decisions, critical strategies, important deals or trades, or bold acquisitions. True legacy for leaders always resides in relationships — the talented people they have developed, nurtured, promoted, and advocated for and who will carry the flag after they depart.
Ask leaders years after they retire, and they will tell you the stars they leave behind are people, not ideas or initiatives. As proud as they are of what they accomplished, they recognize that time moves quickly and outcomes fade with each passing day. People, however, endure. And so do the people those leaders go on to lead. The many leaders groomed by the retiring leader can carry forward the same values, lessons, and insights for decades to come.
Understanding this before a significant ending can allow a leader to leave a deeper mark and a wider wake. Investing in your legacy means investing in people. It’s marked by those you promote, place in critical roles, and to whom you offer experiences that grow them as leaders. Decisions influence both the present and the short-term trajectory of organizations. People carry on the future. How strong will your legacy be?