We rise by lifting others. Robert Ingersoll
At the beginning of a leadership workshop last week, I asked participants this question:
“What impact do you intend to have on others today?”
Here are some examples of how the majority of participants responded:
“I’m going to be curious and ask questions.”
“I’m going to be present.”
“I’ll challenge assumptions when I hear them.”
On the face of it, they’re all good intentions. But did you notice that all of these answers were about what they were going to do. They’re not focused on the impact they want to have. Their responses were all about inputs, not impact. They were ‘attention-in’, not ‘attention-out’.
It’s like looking into a mirror instead of looking at your audience. You might like what you see, but if you’re just focused on yourself, you’re kind of missing the point.
Attention-in is useful. Being self-aware is one of the most critical capacities you can cultivate. That said, leadership is about influence and impact on others. It’s fundamentally about putting your attention on others while at the same time keeping your outcomes, your impact, in mind.
Given that you can’t not impact, asking yourself how you want to impact is smart if you want to improve your chances of creating good outcomes.
Answers focused on impact would have sounded more like this:
“I’ll help people feel seen and heard.”
“I’ll help people find clarity in ambiguity.”
“I’ll aim to help people uncover hidden assumptions they might be holding.”
I reckon a useful habit would be to ask yourself at the beginning of each day, or each meeting, or each conversation:
“What impact do I intend to have on others?”
For more ideas like this, check out: