Having a positive impact is challenging. This reminds me of a common phrase by my 14 year old daughter: “I didn’t mean to do that.” Your intent is what you set out to do. Your impact is the result. Your intent is controllable. This begins in your mind as an idea or an approach. In between impact and intent is your method. Quite often our method is not effective and quite frankly can be derailing.
Leaders will typically move against, move toward or move away from individuals when stressed or anxious. This is a part of the concept of method or approach. My daughter sometimes feels extremely passionate about a situation and she comes across disrespectful. From there, she says, “I didn’t mean to do that” or “I didn’t mean it that way.” She is working through the idea of intent and impact.
Leaders your approach matters. This is the art form of leadership. Your approach helps people move closer to the vision, pause or worse yet, move away from the vision entirely because trust has been thwarted.
I will never forget the day I asked my team to start tracking their time. I sent them an email with a time tracking sheet and a few snippets of persuasive reasoning. It created quite a stir. Sure they complied and yet in the midst of this initiative trust was challenged.
A better approach would have been to discuss the purpose of time tracking with them. This would include the methods of time tracking and the outcomes we are trying to create. A great lesson learned. While I did not say “I didn’t mean to do that.” or “I didn’t mean it that way.” The impact was clear.
Here are some questions to answer to evaluate your impact before you take action:
1.) Question #1: What do I anticipate will be the response(s) from my team if I make this decision?
2. Question #2: How well aligned is my team to this concept or initiative?
3.) Question #3: How well have I included my team to this idea?
4.) Question #4: Who else should I share this idea with to gain their support?
5.) Question #5: What is the best method or approach to communicate this new idea?
The challenge for leaders is that you have to make decisions. A consideration is to pause and consider the impact of your approach before sending the email or making the decision. The best leaders seek to create connectedness and seek to build strong relationships. Otherwise, you support the dictatorial approach to leadership.
A couple of quotes regarding communication:
1. George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
2. Aristotle: “Express yourself like the common people but think like a wise person.”
In the end your intent is usually pure. The challenge for you is your approach or method. You can always go back and evaluate your intent, method and impact.