Paying Attention to Your Impact

My friend and colleague Donna Karlin asked a question the other day that has lingered with me: “Are you paying attention to the impact you are making?”.

In my business, it is important that I pay attention to how I impact my clients in order to assure that I am not interfering with the results THEY want. Donna’s question is a great reminder for all leaders to remain vigilant about their behaviors.

The Importance of Behavior to the Impact You Make

It isn’t uncommon for leaders to be oblivious to their behaviors and the impact they have on others. People are watching – closely. Leaders tend to get scrutinized more closely than others. This can result in seemingly minor behaviors getting interpreted in a big and occasionally unintended way. The impact of the behavior can be much larger than expected.

When we become aware of these behaviors and the impressions they make, a whole new world of becoming intentional about how we show up and impact others can open.

Some Real Examples

Jane was learning to allow her employees freedom of decision in how their work got done (her intent was to let go of micromanaging). In the beginning stages of learning to “let go”, her employees were reading her facial expressions and body language as disapproving while at the same time, her words were encouraging. At best this misalignment was confusing – at worst, it was damaging to her team and the results they needed to achieve.

Chris couldn’t commit to keeping our scheduled coaching meetings. Every meeting was rescheduled at the last minute. I asked him if there were other commitments in his life and work that he wasn’t keeping. Bingo. Upon reflection, he realized that this was a pattern, resulting in others’ perceptions that their needs were lower priority than whatever the crisis of the moment was.

Both of these leaders needed to take notice and take action to assure that their impact was in alignment with what they intended it to be. The relationships they had wih those around them were eroding.

Change the Behavior, Change the Impact

Luckily, these two really wanted to make changes to the behaviors that were causing problems. The behavior changes they made were able to change the impact on others to one that was positive. This may be easier said than done. But simply put, Jane aligned her body language with her words, and Chris kept his commitments. These changes have resulted in positive impact on the relationships they have – presumably a much better situation for them and their organizations!

We all want to make a positive impact. It is important to know the behaviors that impact others and change them when necessary. Seeking feedback is one way to be informed of these behaviors. For some, self-observation, observing the reactions of others, and reflection work.

Are you paying attention to the impact you make?

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

3 comments on “Paying Attention to Your Impact

  1. Mary Jo,

    What's fascinating about impact is that even when asking for feedback, people often don't know exactly how to describe it. Heck, we aren't even all that great telling our own spouses exactly how they make our lives better.

    I've started to ask specification questions for feedback based upon our contract. "How much was I able to help you address issue #1?" "On a scale of 1-5, did I hold you accountable to your commitments?"

    Often we are looking for specific data to bump up our game. Clients are frequently happy with, "That was a worthwhile experience."

  2. As usual Steve, you have hit the nail on the head when it comes to being specific when asking for feedback. I would certainly prefer specificity over "you did very well at that" (or even more perplexing and difficult to act on, "you were lousy at that").

  3. Don't you love it when good friends ask questions to get you thinking, MJ? The question of considering what impact you are having is a very important one. Thanks for the reminder to be intentional about my actions, since those I lead are certainly watching.

Comments are closed.