Our life on this earth is limited, and how we live it matters. Some of the most important questions a leader needs to ask himself are ‘What do I want people to say at my funeral?’, “How do you want people to remember you?”,”What difference do you want to make?” 


When we come to the end of our lives the word -legacy matters most, and as an executive, you have a very short period to create your “executive legacy.” CEOs are not permanent fixtures.  In today’s markets -no job lasts forever, employees move on, and CEOs walk away more frequently than ever.

But no matter the reason for your departures, nearly all executives and CEOs share one common desire, their “Executive Legacy.”

When you arrive at the end of your life one day, “someone will summarise your life in one sentence.” The same applies to the CEO. As you reach the end of your working career, what will that one sentence be that people will remember you by?



Most CEOs simply work, they don’t lead.  Legacy leaders create a lasting impact by intentionality – how they will lead in their working career. Don’t allow you work to lead you; you must lead your work.

Most CEOs concentrate on making their quarterly growth targets. Legacy leaders focus on both their immediate reality but are distinguished by their conviction, regarding the futuristic success of the organisation.


It’s All In The Questions

Legacy Leaders ask questions such as,

“How can we build the kind of advantage that will allow this company to thrive for decades in my absence?” or,

“How will we develop the next generation of leaders, and groom them for challenges that can’t yet be imagined?” or,

“How can we create a leadership pipeline that caters for the development of the new emerging giants – women in leadership?”

When a leader asks these questions, it’s a sign that you are serving titan!  A Leader’s Lasting Value is Measured By Succession -not by some projects he completed or by some institution he has started, but by the many people, he has invested (poured out) his life in.

Legacy leaders seek not only the success of the company but their people. To migrate from success to significance, they are constantly thinking of their legacy.

So is there a secret to building a celebrated executive legacy–especially in an era of shorter tenure?

Here are Four Principles I hope Will Inspire You:


1. Decide What Legacy You Want to Create

To create a powerful legacy with your life, you need to decide what contribution you want to make to the world, or to your company. Most people simply accept their lives. Legacy leaders lead their lives. They create a lasting impact by intentionality and being proactive about how they will lead and live.

To achieve this you will need to know how you want to lead and live. This will require some reflecting on the following questions:

If you knew with certainty that you only had nine more years to live on this earth or nine more months to work in your position as CEO, how would you spend this time and why?

What message do you want to send with your life to the world and to those who matter most to you?

Imagine that you are attending your own funeral. What would you want your family and friends to say about you and how you lived your life?

2. Start Creating Your Legacy Now

It is one thing to know what you want to leave behind and another to actually live it. Most people make a mistake by living their lives as if they have unlimited time. We all have a limited time in this life and at our jobs. If you want to create and leave a legacy, you must live it first now!

Don’t waste your life, waiting for the right person to show up, right opportunity to come to you or the right moment to happen.

Decide to make things happen. Be a person who makes things happen.

Look over your answers to the questions from Point 1. Based on your answers to those questions, identify three to five specific goals you can set for creating the legacy that you want.

Then, for each goal, figure out the first step you can take and start taking it today!


3. Choose Who Will Carry on Your Legacy

Your position is not permanent. You are in that position for a reason and a season, and a big part of that reason is -making way for others to come after you.

Your duty to the company is to:

Proactively search out individuals who will come in once you are gone.

Extend the invitation to such people, train and mentor them, create experiences for them and as you transition out, at the same time they transition up.

This is what legacy leaders strive for in every area of life. If you fail to invest in other gifted individuals who will carry it on, your legacy will die with you.

If you are passionate about something, I challenge you to find someone who will continue once you get tired or called to something else.

Best time to do so is while you’re still in the game!


4. Make Sure You Pass the Baton

Don’t throw the baton, pass on the baton.  The next generation should not have to look for it. Your duty is to pass it on securely.

Unfortunately, most people are so worried about their positions, achievements and seeing the glory of their accomplishments to fade, that they fail to pass the baton to others.

What most people define as great leadership is actually failed leadership,

All because they died with the baton in their hands,

Resulting in a great leadership deficit.

Our ability as leaders will not be measured by the buildings we built, institutions we established, but by how well the people we invested in carried on after we are gone.

“A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.” John Maxwell.  

Two of the greatest inventions of my time have been the laptop computer and wifi. The laptop means I no longer have to stay in one place to be productive in my business life. Wifi has allowed me to stay connected to people all around the world with the touch of a button.

My greatest frustration is when either of these do not work. Sometimes wifi cannot be used because I am out of a wifi connectivity zone. Sometimes I cannot use my laptop because I have not properly charged it, and then the charge runs out while I am on an airplane – the epitome of unproductiveness!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8

Both of these situations mean I am unable to tap into the resources that allow me to fulfil my calling in my work to the fullest.

The morning time with God is much like these situations.

God pours His Word into my spirit, and I am recharged. This recharging has an important effect on my day. It allows me the greatest opportunity to hear the small voice that directs my steps. If I am not “connected,” I risk following my own ways of fulfilling the duties of my day. It sets forth the opportunity for God to speak into my spirit what He desires for me each day. It allows me to focus on God’s purposes, not mine.

The only way to know someone is to spend time with him or her.

The only way to discern the voice of another is to hear that person’s voice.

David the author of this Psalm, was a warrior, king and businessman. He understood this principle of connecting with God in the morning.

His morning allowed him to connect with God’s love, renew his trust in Him and hear His directions for his life.

Shouldn’t you and I do the same?

Vision is our alarm clock in the morning and caffeine in the evening. Vision is the criterion against which all behaviour is measured and nothing touches the heart like it!

The authors of “The Flight of the Buffalo” (Warner Books, 1993) wrote, “Vision is the beginning point for leading the journey. Vision focuses. Vision inspires.” I find this to be so true.

Steven Covey has written, “All things are created twice,  first, there is the mental creation and then the physical creation.”  If we have seen it before we can shape it into reality. Vision is, therefore, the bridge between the present and future reality.

But, for any vision t materialise, you got to make it ‘sticky.’  That is the responsibility of a leader.


5 Steps For Ensuring that Vision is Caught:


#1. Keep The Vision Simply


A good vision must be short, concise and memorable.


Too many organisations make the mistake of trying to include everything in their vision statement. As a result, it ends up being too long, to be easily stated or remembered. A simple, concise vision can be very compelling, even if it needs some further explanation, and is much more likely to be effective than a longer, more complex one.



#2. Cast The Vision Convincingly 


Nothing is more pathetic than a passionless visionary.


Your ability to consistently cast the vision often comes down to the ability to concisely and clearly articulate the vision. Once the vision has been distilled down to a brief, concise, and memorable form, it must be communicated in a compelling way.

Below is a 3 step process to assist you:


  • Define the problem in a way that creates dissatisfaction with the present situation in the people you work with.


  • Offer a solution to the problem that invites their response and involvement.


  • Presenting a compelling reason why action needs to be taken, and taken immediately.


“If you haven’t defined the problem, determined a solution, and discovered a compelling reason why now is the time to act, you aren’t ready to go public with your vision.


#3. Consistently Communicate the Vision


If we want the vision to stick, we have to repeat it multiple times, in multiple ways, in many different venues and forums, and in many different forms.


Mentioning your vision once isn’t going to cut it. We need to find ways of subtly (and not so subtly!) reinforcing the vision in not only large groups but in small groups, at leaders meetings, in our one-to-one appointments. To make vision stick, it must be repeated often, and regularly. Unless the vision is branded upon your heart, this will it be possible.




#4. Celebrate Those Who Model the Vision


One of the best ways to reinforce the vision is to celebrate real life example of your vision being lived out in the real world “What is celebrated is repeated.


The behaviours that are celebrated are repeated. The decisions that are celebrated are repeated. The values that are celebrated are repeated. If you intentionally or unintentionally celebrate something that is in conflict with your vision, the vision won’t stick.

Too often, organisations highlight and celebrate things that conflict with the vision, or simply have nothing to do with advancing the vision. Find ways of recognising individuals who are living out the vision. Find ways to celebrate even minor steps of progress towards the vision.




#5. Embrace and Model the Vision Personally

Followers don’t buy into the vision, they buy into the leader/s.


“If the leaders won’t do it, who will?”  The idea was that we couldn’t ask people to do things that we weren’t first committed to doing ourselves. Your willingness to embody the vision of your organisation will have a direct impact on the organisation.


“It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that people understand and embrace the vision.”

– Andy Stanley


If you are not living out the vision yourself, you are going to have a hard time making it stick after all people do what people see.

How do you know when people have caught the vision?

The simplest test is this: Those who catch the vision are able to cast the vision.

Have you moved from a “customer” to “salesman of the vision?”


After executing goals with efficiency, building congenial relationships with customers both internal and external, a leader must be an innovator.

No matter where you go, you will always encounter problems.  Being a great innovator means that you are a great problem solver. You use your creativity and innovative skills to solve old and new problems.

Most people spent more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them. 

-Henry Ford


An innovator challenges and changes the way followers lead, work, treat each other and pursue profits.


Here are 5 Key Principles that will Help You:


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  1. Don’t go with the flow

Only dead fish go with the flow. Don’t criticise but challenge the conventional wisdom of political, business and social norms. Innovation is the change that will unlock new value.

You may be curious to know why Japanese fishing ships keep a small shark in their fish tanks?  What the fishing companies found was that because they were having to go further and further from Japan to catch tuna, if they froze the fish, consumers didn’t like the taste.  When they put the tuna fish in the tank, they would become sluggish, which apparently, also affected their taste. The shark, however, would keep the tuna darting around the whole return trip to avoid being eaten.  Always seek ways to stay fresh!



  1. Don’t patch up old worn out systems


Whatever works well today will someday wear out. Even my current iPhone 7, will need replacement. And when I do replace it, the new phone will likely be filled with new apps, new features, new ways to learn and communicate, not just patches on top of an old, worn out system.

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

-Peter Drucker

  1. Don’t talk about change unless you have a spine of steel


Moderate change accomplishes nothing of substance. Real change is hard; therefore it is absolutely necessary to be radical.  It more important to do what’s right for the company and customer than pleasing the boss or some other high-level executive who’s not willing to move forward!



  1. Don’t expect to change unless you are willing to risk your comfort-zone


Radical approaches are seldom safe, certain, or predictable. That is why so few embrace them – but we should! You cannot break out of a comfort zone unless you understand; what needs changing, take action and keep it up!



  1. Don’t expect to invent the future by romanticising about the past


A leader of innovation knows that he cannot reach the unknown until he let goes off what’s’ familiar and safe. Although a leader must honour the past, His goal is to invent the future.

The 21st century flows directly from innovation, not optimisation. It is not gained by perfecting the old or the known, but by imperfectly seizing the unknown.

-Kevin Kelly


Remember, only dead  fish “go with the flow.”


Some of the greatest ideas were conceived by creatively challenging the status quo innovatively.


Be an Innovator!  


Question: What’s one area in your life you want to work on today? Leave your comment below, and share this post.