Achieving One’s Professional Legacy

By Nora Infante


Increasingly, the sustainability of your business is no longer defined solely by its long-term profitability but more and more by its positive impact on the world around it. Accordingly, an excellent leader must develop an awareness of his or her legacy, and must expand their strategic vision to encompass how they will influence the organization so that it might have a lasting positive impact on the world around it.

All leaders are tasked with challenging themselves to be as effective and successful within their sphere as influence as they can be. Executive coaching plays an important role in developing leadership awareness and skill. What is not always considered is that every decision, action, and interaction is a building block in constructing your professional legacy: what will be the long-term impact of your leadership on your organization?

Coaching, with an eye focused on legacy building, can be a powerful motivator for the executive and provide extra incentive and meaning to doing the hard work involved in changing leadership behavior for the better.  Asking and addressing some of life’s most pressing questions are key components of leadership legacy planning. Such questions should include:

  • What difference am I making to my team and the company as a whole?
  • What’s the long term value of my role?
  • What contribution will I make that is uniquely mine?
  • How can I influence my organization’s behavior for the common good?

Building a lasting legacy requires a leader to begin to think about their last day on the job on their first day on the job. Achieving this goal of constructing a lasting legacy requires both long-term and short-term planning. As one begins integrating into any new role, the first six months should be spent devoting significant time in consideration of how she can create an impact, and consequently a legacy that will outlive her role. In order to do so, the executive must clearly recognize and articulate her long-term vision and do the work necessary to map the short, medium and long-term practical steps which she must accomplish to achieve her legacy vision.

Asking the right- and often difficult- questions of oneself and key stakeholders is critical in achieving alignment on long-term business strategy and desired impact.   This takes foresight, and not infrequently courage, since long term-goals are usually riskier and always less tangible than short term goals, and require steadfast corporate conviction. Achievement of these long term goals are possible, however, only through the execution of less risky, more obvious short term goals requiring constant prioritization and decision-making.

The executive must successfully integrate his legacy vision with his organization’s strategy .  To do so he must inspire the organization to share his vision and integrate the organizations strategy into his vision.  The executive must inspire his colleagues and other key stakeholders to dream beyond their personal motivations and goals. The more effectively he communicates his vision, the broader his scope of influence will be. If successfully executed, the integration of the executive’s legacy vision and the organization’s strategy will result in moving the lever of corporate impact toward the greater common good.

Responsible and legacy-driven leadership is about introducing and embedding the right values and virtues throughout the organization, those that will positively influence the organization’s wider business model. Consider the following questions:

  • How is the executive preparing the next generation of leaders at all levels of the organization to carry on her vision with a responsible approach toward their work?
  • Is she providing them with the skills sets and tools necessary to address anticipated future challenges?
  • Has she succeeded in inspiring those around her to think beyond their individual roles and to envision the impact of their role in achieving greater organizational contribution to the common good?

All of these activities are exciting and exhilarating, but can be opaque when viewed through the lens of the day-to-day activities of the modern executive. Through effective coaching, the steps necessary to achieve valuable and extraordinarily fulfilling legacy building will become clearer and more achievable.


Whether you’re an executive nearing retirement, or an emerging leader with a long term vision about your legacy, meet with Nora to bring your legacy vision into reality!