Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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True Leaders Know That Real Value Outlives the Creator

What do true leaders know that separates them from the masses?

When I was younger, family friends often said: I was an old soul. And being the youngest kid in my family, I would use that statement as a justification for clapping back whenever someone told me I could not do something because I was too young. 😉 As a kid, my “old soul” inclinations led me to ponder questions such as: What would they remember of me when I am no longer at this school? Or when I leave this country, will I ever come back? And will I ever see these friends again? Admittedly, these thoughts were ever-present because I moved around a lot as a kid. And I had many opportunities to think about what happens when a chapter is closed.

Also, like all of us, as time elapsed, I opened new life chapters and closed some. And my tendency to imagine what could be and to revel in the mysteries of the unknown increased. – This also led to a fascination with enigmatic questions such as: What happens when I am no longer here? Will I become a figment of the imagination? What would my presence and existence signify? And ultimately, what will I leave behind?

The question: “What am I leaving behind?” is one many of us ask ourselves. But in our careers, we might forget to think about this as we race to meet deadlines, attend important meetings, and complete urgent deliverables. – When I talk to leaders before they leave a company or role, they always reflect on this question. And they often do so with a sense of regret. Notably, the morose sentiment often stems from wondering if they did enough! And whether their accomplishments would be recognized and remembered. – Being privy to such thoughts led me to ponder two quintessential questions: Why do many of us wait until we are one foot out the door to consider what we are leaving behind? And how can we avoid making this mistake?

What will you leave behind?

My exploration led me to a revealing encounter with someone who chose to close a chapter in her career meaningfully. A few weeks ago, on a Friday morning, a client called me to get some perspective on her professional journey. The client leads an organization in a large company. And during our discussion, she shared concerns about her current job and said she wanted to leave the company. – This stood out to me because this client has been at the same company for over two decades! And over the years, she has grown in the company, learned to navigate the executive terrain, and seemed very comfortable in the environment. But this morning, she passionately shared concerns about limited career opportunities and poor leadership. 

After listening to her voice disgruntled thoughts, I encouraged her to set aside her frustrations for a moment and imagine! – Specifically, imagine what her desired future would look like including where she would live, where she would work, what her job responsibilities would be, what her social life would entail, and how her family would acclimate and thrive. And as she articulated her vision, her excitement was palpable!

And then I said: Now that you know where you want to go and what you want to do, let us talk about what you want to leave behind. – I added: This is important because we do not know when the desired future state might materialize. But in the meantime, I know you are an engaged leader who wants to contribute. And to do so requires that we be intentional and purposeful. 

She agreed with this approach. But initially, she struggled to think about her current job in a positive light. And she wrestled with making plans to give more. However, she is a committed contributor, and in time, she was able to think about the critical work she had done over the years and the value of preserving it. – And as she considered what she wanted to leave behind, she began to see the value of her work today. Also, she became energized about educating and training others in the organization to carry it forward. – To build her legacy!

The Inevitability of Closing Chapters

Closing a life chapter seems unavoidable. – Sooner or later, we all move on to new ventures! Perhaps you remember a time when people stayed at one company for their entire careers. – Today, that seems to be an anomaly. Times have changed! And quickly changing companies, roles, and jobs is the new norm. – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States, in January 2022, the median number of years employees had been with their current employer was 4.1 years. And if you think this was primarily due to the pandemic, think again! Because that number was the same in January 2020, before the pandemic started. Employee Tenure Summary – 2022 A01 Results (bls.gov)
It seems the average worker experiences one presidential election, and before the next election, she has moved on to a new professional venture!

Indeed, we close professional doors and open new ones frequently. And gaining new experiences can serve us well and make life more thrilling! However, as we move on, it is valuable to be planful and know what we are leaving behind. And true leaders recognize the value of this.


If you are thinking of moving on to something new, here are some prompts to consider.
What are you leaving behind?
What is something you are proud of in your current role?
What can you do to ensure it outlasts your tenure at the organization? -Perhaps train others on the process? Or seek additional support or funding to extend a project?

One of the hallmarks of a true leader is a lasting legacy. And true leaders know that real value outlives the creator. And this is critical because we are all humans trying to find our place in this world and leave our mark.

For more on the indisputable value that leaders offer when they recognize that workers are humans, you may read more in a recent blog post: True Leaders Know That Workers are Humans (akesatia.com)

Dear Reader,
Today, we close a chapter as we end the What True Leaders Know series. 
It has been a contemplative experience, and I hope it has served you well. Thank you for exploring the realm of leadership with me!

For you and to you,



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