My mother-in-law died. She was a remarkable woman, focused on measurement long before it was in vogue. In particular, she judged a funeral by the number of viewing attendees, number of mass cards sent, and number of cars in the procession. She would have been pleased with her metrics.
Her funeral was a mixed bag – as most are – of sadness and inspiration. The stories that were told, good times remembered, and outpouring of support and emotion made it clear: this woman left quite a legacy. It wasn’t her intention to do so… it just happened as a result of how she lived her life.
It made me think about leaders in organizations and the legacies that are inadvertently left. When we’re gone – moving on to another job here or beyond – what’s remembered? It’s not the hard, business stuff: last quarter’s results, the big new account that was brought in, or the marketing plan that beat expectations. It’s the soft stuff: the encouragement, support, help, and kindness. It’s the culture, environment or vibe that someone created. It’s the human connection that touched one’s spirit or soul.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
- How do you make people feel?
- Do you make them feel strong, helping them build on their talents and gifts?
- Do you make them feel hopeful, enabling them to realize important dreams and goals?
- Do you make them feel capable, exploiting opportunities and possibilities?
The good news is that you won’t have to wait until you’re gone to know the answers. They already show up in countless tangible ways: retention and turnover; enthusiasm and discretionary effort; and the professional development and progression of those who report to you.
As leaders, while we’re running the business and delivering results month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year, it might be wise to put in place some legacy metrics as well.
So, what do you think? What kind of leadership legacy do you want to leave? What leading indicators might let you know that you’re tracking toward your intended results?