The Times publishes letter from Niamh O'Keeffe, on recent CEO Summit

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Niamh O'Keeffe urges Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenburg to consider his world leadership legacy

Business Leaders Failing by not Leaving a “Powerful Legacy”

THE majority of chief executives are failing to use their influence and power to put in place a lasting legacy when they leave their jobs, according to a top leadership advisor.

Niamh O’Keeffe, who runs leadership consultancy CEOassist, says that by not creating a meaningful legacy during their time in charge of some of the biggest organisations globally/in the UK, they are missing a “massive opportunity” to be the best possible leader and to contribute towards solving world problems.

Niamh said there were only a handful of CEOs who understood the importance of leaving a legacy with Virgin boss Richard Branson probably the highest profile in particular for committing to invest $3billion in developing alternative fuels. In 2006, the Virgin boss said he would commit all profits from his travel firms, such as airline Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains, over the next 10 years to role model to other transport and energy companies that they "must be at the forefront of developing environmentally friendly business strategies.

Niamh, who has launched an initiative to help CEOs develop a leadership legacy, said: “Becoming CEO often means achieving a lifetime’s ambition and the reality is that for most this is the moment they will be at their most powerful and influential. For some CEOs, it could even be their last job at the end of a successful career.

“We hear a lot from organisations about the importance of putting in place Corporate Social Responsibility policies which are fine up to a point.

“Creating a world leadership legacy is about something much more long term and really leveraging the power and influence of an organisation and the individual at the top to bring about change for the better within a particular country or globally.

“While providing football kits to community football teams has its place, this is about CEOs stepping forward to help tackle world issues aligned with their organisation’s mission.
“For example, an organisation such as BP has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past year, so putting in place a world leadership project on tackling climate change as his legacy would be a positive and potentially inspirational thing for the new CEO Bob Dudley to build into his business strategy.

“There are many other high profile and relatively new CEOs in the UK alone who should be considering their CEO leadership legacy including ITV’s Adam Crozier, Barclays’ Bob Diamond, Lloyds Bank’s Antonio Horta-Osorio and Tesco’s Philip Clarke. Each of them is a powerful business leader with the ability to transform not just their organisations, but the world.

“The tenure of CEOs has changed dramatically in recent years. The typical tenure these days is about three to five years. In some places, it is considered bad practice if a CEO stays in place for ten years or longer.

“It means that everything they do in the business has to be focussed on results and success and by building a world leadership legacy into that strategy, a CEO has the chance to make a genuine difference to the world in which we live.”


  • For more information or an interview with Niamh O’Keeffe, please contact Nick Mason at Mason Media on 0151 239 5050 or 07903 237008.
  • CEOassist has offices in London and New York.

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