The invisible legacy

It’s not surprising that the question of legacy comes up a lot in conversations I have with clients. They’re all business leaders and one of the aspirations they share is to leave a lasting mark on the world they’ve lived in.

Because aspiration is a more productive driver of behaviour than threat, there’s one facet of legacy that, understandably, tends to be ignored in the conversations that follow. That facet is the very real danger that any failure to deliver will leave scar tissue behind. I’m not talking here about scars left on the psyche of the leaders themselves, I’m talking about the damage done to those left behind, those “followers” who bought into the leader and their dreams, and threw themselves into making them a reality.

There’s only so many times that people are prepared to make the leap of faith required to follow someone into the unknown and each time their willingness to trust someone like you blows up in their face, the thicker the scar tissue becomes and the less willing they are to follow whoever comes next. This means that all of us who put, or find, ourselves in a position to lead have a choice. We can carefully nurture that willingness to put our trust and faith in others, or we can carelessly undermine it. If it’s the former, we’ll leave behind something that whoever follows can build on. If it’s the latter, we’ve, intentionally or not, made their job just that little bit harder.

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Liz Staniforth

Liz Staniforth

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