Following the example of influential political figures, leaders tend to focus on past achievements when they are approaching retirement or the end of their career in leadership positions. They do so to measure the impact their life’s work has had on their teams, their organisations and their respective industries as a whole. This glance backwards constitutes an effort to gauge their legacy and is, in essence, a quite traditional understanding of legacy-driven leadership.

Although there is no intention on our part to treat “traditional” as a dirty word, our experience has shown that truly remarkable leaders are those who look towards the future to shape their legacy and its impact. These are the leaders who hardly anyone forgets.

So, how do great leaders manage to become etched into people’s memories?

  1. They have been thinking long-term and strategically throughout their career. They have very clear goals and know exactly how to use the tools available to them.

  2. They know how to prioritize issues and can determine turning points in their individual careers and their organizations. Having this invaluable skill, their focus on the most important issue is unwavering. This is precisely what leads them to excellence.

  3. They have managed to shed any inclination to respond reactively because they have realized early on that such an approach only serves them in the short term. They are memorable for their steadfast strategic planning.

  4. They focus on the process rather than the end result. By doing so, the means through which they arrive at a destination are more important and, thus, avoid counter-productive leadership practices which may upset their teams.

  5. Criticism, obstacles and overall negativity cannot derail them. They know how to persevere and pursue their goals without relenting.

  6. They build a strong following throughout their careers. Their strong vision appeals to other driven individuals who are willing to contribute to realizing this vision. This is how their qualities create the ripples which shape and sustain their legacy.

  7. They have an admirable ability to adapt in order to deal with unexpected developments without departing from their ultimate goal. They are willing to change course, take the longer route  or even multiple different paths without losing sight of their destination.


Memorable leaders create their legacy by turning a blind eye to the past. Rather, they focus on what they can achieve in the future.