What’s Your Leadership Legacy?

by Jennifer Miller on May 29, 2012

in Leadership

numbers on chalkboard IISo I’m standing there, talking with a seventy-year-old man, who has recently retired from his career as a vice president overseeing hundreds of workers each day. His wife is undergoing cancer treatment and he lays this on me: “Jen, with Nancy’s illness, I’ve realized I was such a jerk as a boss. My people would come to me and try to tell me about their loved one’s sickness. I didn’t care; I was too focused on hitting my production numbers.” The regret in his voice is palpable.


It’s tragic when a leader learns a life lesson too late.

I’ve heard it said that “numbers are the language of business”, which drives many a leader to focus solely on matters of the mind. Hitting those numbers isn’t worth squat if in the process what’s left behind is a stockpile of uncaring interactions. Each and every day, we all have a choice to lead—with both our head and our heart. If numbers are the language of business, then compassion is the condition that allows leaders to speak it without callousness.

Think about your daily leadership actions. Will your leadership legacy be filled with regret or satisfaction?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bernd June 3, 2012 at 6:06 am

Dear Jennifer,
Good Article.
It is very sad if someone learns this lesson that late in his life.

I have seen many managers climbing up the corporate ladder. Actually I was one of them. Every day you have to make the decision:
Do I focus purely on hitting the numbers or do I spend time and risk short term results by behaving like a real leader, e.g. supporting employees who need my personal help and time?

It sounds easy but it isn’t.
If you decide to behave like a leader, it can mean:
In the short term you loose because you may not hit your numbers and you get into trouble with your boss. You may even run the risk loosing your own job.
I am convinced that in the long term it is the correct decision.
In the long term it always pays back.

Best Regards

Jennifer Miller June 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm


Thanks for stopping by The People Equation. I always enjoy hearing perspectives from people who have “been there, done that” as a leader. I agree that each day, leaders are faced with a decision: take the short-term solution, or the often more difficult approach that focuses on the long term benefit.

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