The blacksmith, Francis Bowes, died in Poulton-le-Sands, a small Lancashire fishing village, in 1732. I know this because Mr Bowes made a bequest in his will to start a village school, which, some 240 years later, I attended.
Mr Bowes’s generosity was not only a legacy in the legal sense, it was also a legacy in terms of the educational impact it had on future generations of the village’s children.
Unfortunately, most business leaders fail to leave a legacy that survives more than a few weeks of their departure, never mind one that lasts generations. They are so busy in the ‘here and now’ and delivering the current quarter’s results that they fail to think about the lasting, positive impact they want to leave behind.
That said, some leaders do make an impact that lasts longer than their period of gardening leave. And where a legacy exists, it is not remembered in terms of quarterly results, but in terms of the leader’s behaviours and the personal connection they made with people.
If you want to leave a positive and lasting impact on your organization – and I believe that you should – your focus should not only be financial and operational; it must also be personal. Your ability to develop others, to empower colleagues to achieve more and your willingness to model behaviours on a day-to-day basis that others aspire to are the foundations of a leadership legacy.
Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone was wrong when he said that business wasn’t personal. It is. As my coach tells me, behind every business objective is a personal objective.
So, what are the personal objectives that you wish to deliver through your working life? And what lasting impact could the delivery of those objectives achieve that could match or even surpass the legacy made by a village blacksmith nearly 300 years ago?
Off The Record: Legacy by Carole King
You better think about the legacy
That you want to leave behind
It’s all getting burnt-out, used up
Bought and sold to the bottom line
That ain’t the way it’s gotta be
You can leave a better world than you find
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