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Data Leadership Legacy: How Will You Be Remembered?

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This week, I took a phone call from a CEO I’d previously worked with. He wanted a follow-up piece of AI and data leadership strategy work to complement some data leadership I’d done for his organization a few years ago. Earlier this month, another CTO pinged me to let me know that he’d moved roles to a different organization. He wanted to take me with him to help him get a data strategy sorted out in his new role. 

Both leaders liked the work that I had previously done for them. The work had a considerable impact on their respective organizations. Both organizations are multi-million global organizations in the public eye. They had a lot of data that required a strategic data leadership eye. As a result of this previous effort, I was fortunate enough to be well-regarded today by them. I proved myself through data leadership and data strategy results rather than noise.

What will you be remembered for?

What will your colleagues remember about you a year ahead, or two, or three? Recently, Stanford University published a study looking at what people are remembered for. The researchers wanted to find out how much common memory existed for known figures who had passed away. Researchers found that not much lives in our memories beyond a year after the death of well-known public figures. For the ordinary person, the chances of anyone recalling us less well-known people a year after moving jobs is, alas, unlikely. 

Given the research, I am thrilled the leaders got in touch to work together again. It was satisfying to hear from these leaders again because they remembered the data strategy and data leadership work that we did for them and how we made them feel. The research supports this finding. Recall for public figures was much higher if those individuals had contributed more permanently; the people who are remembered most are the ones who leave behind them a body of work that has an impact. In business, many people will remember the contributions made by Peter Drucker, Dale Carnegie or Steve Covey. These remarkable individuals have sorrowfully departed, but all have left a impressive body of work behind them, influencing people many years after their deaths. 

What do you remember other people for? Making a lasting impact?

I am supporting start-up organizations now as part of my business community efforts globally as well as the work I do locally here in the UK. Recently, I saw that a start-up business owners had vented spleen on social media, complaining that the funding bodies were not being fair in their awarding process and that the decision was down to something personal rather than professional. Whether the business owner was right or wrong, the business owner’s openly public complaints are probably making them relieved that they didn’t award any funding to the business, so even if it was professional, it then turned into something personal. To be clear, I had nothing to do with the start-up, process or decision, but my takeaway point – what I remember them for – is the venting of public social media spleen as part of the online scrolling that I was mindlessly doing. 

Much-loved actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of his latest movie, accidentally killing one of the directors and injuring another. People worldwide will remember Alec Baldwin for this event long after stopping making movies. Here in the UK, the British Government awarded Southend the status of being a City in the days after the killing of Sir David Amess, the Member of Parliament who was murdered in October 2021. There was an outpouring of grief and a strong reaction to tragic events in both of these events. Outside of these gentlemen’s other achievements, these tragedies are what they will be remembered for. 

What do people remember you for? Fortunately, we have wise words to inspire us, and to point us in the right direction.

Setting your own Agenda for Data Leadership

As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Dr. Angelou certainly did all of these things and will always be remembered for her genuine voice and how she made Americans from all avenues of life feel empowered.  Let’s be more Dr. Angelou. Data involves everyone in the business. After all, that is what business is all about. It’s about how you make colleagues, clients, suppliers, vendors, and customers. Did you motivate them? Do you make them feel appreciated? Have you left a permanent positive impression? Business is about people as well as endeavours. It is so easy to close doors to yourself but very difficult to open them again. People need to trust you. Trust happens when you produce results.

Helping yourself: Writing a data leadership career journal before it happens

What do you want people to remember of you when you move to a new consulting gig or retire? Do you know what impact you will leave? The answer appears to be not in what you do or say but what you produce and the impact that you will have. Consider this: the more you create a body of vital work that has results, the more people will remember you and the more significant the difference you will make. Here’s a little secret from my career: knowing and understanding data has made me invaluable during my career. Be a data leader, even if it is not your actual job. Even Google’s experts keep pointing out that the algorithm favors organizations contributing more deep, expert content. Writing a career journal in advance will help you focus your efforts on producing results rather than noise. Otherwise, people will forget you a year after you have changed jobs or moved to a new consulting gig. Being remembered for the right things means performing something and delivering for others, not just being someone or doing something.

Setting your Data Leadership agenda: Get in touch

And if you’d like an AI or data strategy, please get in touch here. We hope to make you feel valued, appreciated and understood, and we look forward to making your data work for you. In the world of data, it is an exciting time! We look forward to helping you with your data leadership and your business objectives.

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