What Is Your Impact?

When we fail to incorporate reflection and awareness into our leadership, we will struggle and eventually fail to assess, let alone comprehend our impact.

Which is often the issue…

Inundated.  Consumed.  Overwhelmed.  Busy beyond belief.  The urgency of the now so often overcomes us and our work.  The power of the present and its need to be taken care of is a demanding one.

We are often so consumed by the work stacked in front of us that we seldom consider, let alone reflect on our impact.  Short-term pressures have a tendency to win the tug of war over long-term considerations.

But, as leaders, if we continue down this road for very long, we will find that we’ve gained a great distance without ever determining a destination.

Which is why knowing your impact is essential to being effective.

Impact is a powerful word.  It is not subtle, especially when we consider that what we do, the choices we make, the words we use, all have an impact.  But first, we must have a clear understanding of impact.

According to a Google search, impact is two-fold…

the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.


the effect or influence of one person, thing, or action, on another.

The interesting thing, with this definition in hand, you would be quick to think that only one applies to leadership, and you would be remiss in doing so.  Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, just as many leaders work from the former as do from the latter.

Fear.  Pressure.  Anxiety.  Worry.  Power.  Are all still drivers of modern day command and control leaders.  Forcing a uniformity to one is still alive and well in many of our organizations.  You find in these organizations and leaders that your role has less to do with impact, than with implementation.  Ideas and thinking come from the top, which are eventually forced down upon the organization and all within.

And then there are those few organizations and leaders who understand the power in the latter, the power of influence and having a positive impact.

These organizations and leaders realize that influence, the impact and imprint that they create and leave upon those they serve, far outweigh any bottom-line.  The funny thing, those organizations and leaders that place people first, often achieve beyond any bottom-line that was set.

Which is why reflective leaders realize that impact is multi-dimensional, it has many layers.  A leaders impact rolls out on many fronts in an organization, in a variety of ways, in a variety of arenas.  All of which must be considered and assessed.

And it begins with asking the right question…

In a recent article from Inc.com, Leigh Buchanan interviewed Adam Grant, professor and author of Give and Take, in which he discusses that very question of impact.  In the article, Grant mentions how in Doris Kearns novel, Team of Rivals, Abraham Lincoln resolved to ask himself, “Is this where I can have the greatest impact?

Which is a question that we must begin to ask ourselves.  “Is this where I can have the greatest impact?”  And if not, why?  And what can I do to put myself in a position where I can have the greatest impact?

And it is not just Wharton professor and author Adam Grant that is pushing us to ask ourselves this question, professor and author John Hattie has pushed educators to “know thy impact“.  Of which Hattie says requires our ability to listen, but to “see through the eyes of others.

Which is why it is not just about having an impact, but knowing what kind of impact you are trying to have, to create.  And once you know, once you have determined that, follow Lincoln’s lead and ask yourself…

“Is this where I can have the greatest impact?”


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