A friend of mine retired last week. After a long and successful career, latterly as CFO in a specialist manufacturing business, he has handed back his keys to the Executive Washroom and heads off into the sunset for some well-deserved time with his family. One thing that astonished him was the warmth and outpouring of emotion that his retirement caused; grown men and women on the factory floor were literally reduced to tears, expressing gratitude to him for all he had achieved for the business.
This set me thinking; it’s increasingly rare that any of us spend decades with the same employer in the way previous generations have and the concept of retirement is beginning to look like a strange one as we all live and work longer. So what will our legacy be in this changing employment landscape? If you’re a successful recording artist like the late Prince or a talented entertainer such as the recently departed Victoria Wood then your body of work lives on but, for most of us, it’s a bit more difficult to see what we leave behind us.
I’m a management consultant, so over the years I’ve come into contact with countless talented people and interesting businesses, often for only a relatively short time, so what legacy can people like me leave? I always hope that everyone I work with feels better for the time we have spent together. In that small way I feel like I’m creating my own legacy.
We’re all different and have varied motivations and experience. My friend now has tangible proof that his efforts have been appreciated over a long period of time. So I’d like to ask you, what will your legacy be?