Leadership Legacy: What Will They Say When You Are Gone?

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”

– Tom Peters

People come and they go in our lives. They may work with us our whole career or be with us only a short time, but they leave an impression, an impact on our lives. Recently, I lost the best leader I ever worked for- Allan Zwerner- to stage 4 prostate cancer. I had the pleasure of working for Allan early in my career at Burdine’s Department Stores and later mid-career at the Federated Department Store Corporate Offices. His inspiring leadership left an indelible mark on me and just about everyone who worked for him. Inspirational, passionate leaders with high integrity do this for us. We are forever changed after we know and work with them. It’s as if we take a piece of them into our hearts. 

Allan’s extraordinary leadership combined his love of work (passion) with his high integrity (honesty and kept commitments). These were a big part of his legacy, but the real kicker was knowing that he cared about me. He wanted me to succeed and grow. He valued my opinion and wanted to teach me things I didn’t know. He made me feel special. The thing is that’s how he made all of us feel. He left a legacy of love.

What is your leadership legacy? Long after you leave a company, a team, a division to retire or to move one to greener pastures, people will be left with something. There’s still time to change your legacy, just try spreading a little love.