Dear Dr. Lisa:
I am a senior executive. Last year I was flying high. I had been promoted to the highest level, short of the Management Committee; however, due to changes within the company, I was packaged out. It has been tough. I’m embarrassed and painfully disappointed. I fear my colleagues think it was me failing, fully discounting the change in the company politics. I am most concerned about how I am now perceived and the impact on my legacy. What can I do to restore my brand with the folks inside the company, now that I am gone?
Legacy on Shaky Ground
Dear Legacy on Shaky Ground:
Regardless of your level, it is always hard to leave a company on someone else’s terms. Unfortunately, it happens often at the executive level. I have seen many executives question themselves and worry about their legacy after leaving.
However, I think your concerns about your legacy are a little skewed. Companies make changes all the time. Yours has too. The only difference this time is that you are now impacted. Your legacy has nothing to do with company politics and everything to do with the impact you’ve had on people. Have you helped them? Have you supported them? Programs and approaches will change, as they should. Don’t consider that – only the people. The question is – Did you make an impact with the folks? If so, then you have nothing to worry about. Those people will carry your banner for a long time. If your departure was painful, it is likely others feel that too. Reach out to them. Share how you feel and allow them to be there for you as you have been for them. Now, if you did not make an impact with the people, then you have learned a great lesson about the value of impacting those around you. And you can become more purposeful about creating your legacy in your next role.
P.S. Your theme song is, “The Way We Were” by Barbara Streisand.