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What Is Your Legacy?


I’ve had the pleasure recently to meet with a number of CEOs to talk about their leadership styles and the things they do to manage and drive change and performance in their companies. They are at the helm of some impressive companies, ranging from engineering, distribution and logistics, to professional services and others.

They have some things in common:

  1. Heaps of personal energy and enthusiasm

  2. Clear focus on the job in hand

  3. A sense of direction and strategy

  4. A great handle on the numbers and finance

  5. Highly personal approach and empathy with people

There were other things, but I think you get the idea.

In some cases, these people were very highly thought of, and were parachuted in to other areas of the group or subsidiaries in order to “turn them around” or refocus them for greater performance.

And they did.

They used all of the great stuff above, and their personality and ability imposed a new order of things; and they achieved the outcomes required.

So far so good you may say. On the face of it, this could be the end of this article- but it’s not.

For as soon as the job was done, the company or department rectified and was once again performing nicely, the CEO or MD was asked to move on to another, or back to the place he or she had come, with a pat on the back and the recognition richly deserved.

The problem is this:

The personality and experiences that brought about the desired change in fortunes belonged to the MD or CEO. It was not installed in the Directors or managers left behind running the show after the job was “done”.

So what happened next? Well you have already concluded, I think: the performance and turnaround became an event and not an outcome. The personality once gone was no longer able to instruct or coach the team. The team reverted to “old” which was the limit of their own experiences and you guessed it, performance dropped once again.

The CEO or MD lacked a legacy to the assignment.

To leave a legacy in change planning and management terms, you need a repeatable framework. This framework is used to initiate the work and then the management team are able to repeat it at will at a future point. Because a framework is a rules based and auditable planning system you will always leave behind a CONTROLLED approach to the job in hand.

So what framework will you use and how will you know it works?

Whatever approach you take, ensure that it is G.R.A.I.L. compliant.

Governance in place

Repeatable by your team at any time

Auditable – from inception to delivery

Inclusive of all of your stakeholders

Led Strategically

Governance is in place and evidenced by a controlled manual, system or approach that is consistent and if possible regulated to a standard.

Repeatable by your teams. Critically, a change planning system must be owned by your wider teams and not just imposed by an individual.

Auditable. Every project is made up of a number of plans.Sufficient control points must be shown to prove the journey from idea to deliverable.

Inclusive of all stakeholders. Any change plan must extract agreement and commitment from those responsible for change, and acceptance and willing cooperation from those affected or involved.

Led strategically. As opposed to incepted operationally as many change initiatives sadly are. By joining the actions to the strategy, an exponentially more powerful and reaching solution can be had, providing a vehicle for a cohesive and unified vision across the whole organisation.


Somebody once left the most powerful legacy on earth, and the word G.R.A.I.L. has been associated with it ever since.


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