Leadership is About Impact by Jim Johnson

I met with my leadership team the other week to talk through a “what if” scenario.  The possibilities, as I explained, were exciting.  It would require more work.  It would require being challenged and stretched.  It would require change.

My leadership team then met (without me) a few days later to talk through this scenario.  They individually have shared with me some of what they discussed.

Not surprisingly, these leaders did not focus on how this scenario would impact them and their teams.  On the contrary, they focused on how they could impact the situation – how they would reallocate resources, elevate flexibility, and revisit procedures that had not been reviewed for a while.  They focused on how they could improve now to make the most effective impact later.

Today (it is a Thursday), try on a “what if” scenario for you and your team.  I’ll give you something to think about.

Imagine that your company measures NPS (net promoter score) as a metric that points to customer engagement/satisfaction/referrals.  Then imagine that your boss comes to you and says that your team’s performance in customer service had to improve from its current level of 59% NPS to 80%.  And you have 90 days to accomplish this.

Key Question:  how would you impact that challenge?

shocked womanI believe that many of us would quickly fall into the worry/stress mode of thinking:

  • “Is my boss nuts!?! That’s not possible!”
  • “Well, they better get me more staff if they want that to happen!”
  • “What do you want me to stop doing to start doing this?!”

But your boss is serious.  It has to be done.

So, what are you going to do to get there?

Start by envisioning a future that meets that goal.  Start by asking you and your team:

  • What would we do differently today to hit that goal in the future?
  • How would we think differently?
  • How would our team feel coming to work each day?
  • What would our customers experience differently as we worked toward this goal?
  • How would we shift from “this impacts me/us” to “how can I/we impact this goal”?

Brainstorm with your leadership team and members of your department.  Write down brainstormingyour responses to the questions above.  Agree on what the “new normal” will look like.  Then take action.  Yes, actually do this exercise as if it were real.  And watch what happens.  If you are the primary leader, take note of what the process in the 90 day time period:

  • How are natural leaders stepping up?
  • Who is “all in” and modeling the right stuff?
  • How is this exercise changing the team dynamic?
  • How are others outside of your department noticing what is happening (note:  don’t tell them you are doing this exercise – if your team is doing this well, others will notice)?

This is an exercise worth attempting especially if you and your team are “stuck” merely showing up for work, putting in the time, and then going home.  You and your team can make an impact – every day and in meaningful ways.

Leader, this all starts with you.  “Exemplary leaders are forward-thinking…Turning exciting possibilities into an inspiring shared vision ranks near the top of the list of every leader’s most important responsibilities.” (Kouzes & Posner)

Today, look for ways you and your team can impact your company’s results.  Dream.  Cast vision.  Push.  Impact.

Maxwell on leadership impact