What is Impactful Leadership? Why is it so Important?

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Defining Impactful Leadership

Impactful Leadership is about making a difference.

Making a personal difference in the lives of the individuals that make up the teams you work with. Providing a positive contribution to the businesses and institutions you work in. And ultimately, creating purpose and meaning in your own life.

Impactful leaders often come in larger-than-life-size packages with broad reach. The world recently lost an example in Colin Powell, an impactful leader of epic proportion, influence, and decoration.

Impactful leaders also come in small, everyday varieties. Like Lisa, the Manager at my local Kroger Supermarket, who always has a smile on her face, provides amazing customer service, and is kind, generous, and helpful to her staff, even when they are messing up.

While the two examples I provide here work at vastly different scales, as I reflect on them both, I recognize some common traits and behaviours worth considering.

  • A sense of selflessness
  • An attitude of service to others
  • An ability to keep calm, even under pressure
  • Acting with compassion and care
  • Seeing and valuing every individual's contribution

And the outcome is that people feel a certain way around these kinds of leaders.

They not only have respect and admiration for their leader, wanting to follow the example that's being set, they also feel good about their own contribution and the value that they are bringing to the organization. In other words, appreciated.

In turn, that appreciation results in their own sense of serving and willingness to contribute further, a sort of upward spiral of positive response.

Somehow, impactful leaders make this look effortless.

But there is effort.

And there is often great and noble intentionality.

Powell himself, who learnt Yiddish from his boss during a part-time job in High School was wont to say "Gesund Dein Kepple" - Keep a Healthy Head.

Drawing out this example, choosing to adopt the principle of keeping a cool head, even under pressure, means that leaders can deliberately maintain a sense of grace under fire and are less likely to subconsciously react in the heat of the moment.

Impactful leaders typically have a high level of clarity on their personal principles and values. And these principles and values guide their decisions, their behaviours, and their intentionality on the kind of impact that they will have on others.

Another trait I have noticed that impactful leaders model, is that they treat all matters, all individuals, with a sincere level of care and attention. It calls to mind this quote from Helen Keller.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."

It is in the smallest, and seemingly trivial day to day tasks and interactions, where a leader will have a profound effect and impact on the people she leads.

Why Does it Matter?

I believe that people are fundamentally driven to serve and contribute.

And that by being able to fulfil this basic need, we find our own purpose, meaning, and joy.

Giving people the opportunity for contribution and to feel valued and purposeful is one of the greatest opportunities and privileges of leadership.

Even the most 'difficult' of employees I have encountered over the years want to be of value and to be valued for the contribution they make.

Impactful leaders have a knack for bringing out the best in their people, tapping into this very human aspect of wanting to contribute.

As a leader of people, the culture you foster to empower individuals to contribute, shine as individuals, and be valued for their contribution will leverage an intrinsically human value in those individuals to be the best that they can be.

And it makes sense for business metrics too.

From a business viewpoint, as a leader, your role is to best utilise your resources to meet your company's goals and maximise business value. When it comes to the human resources in your charge, creating a culture of trust, empowerment, autonomy, a sense of being valued will enable you to deliver on your business objectives through your people.

And the powerful results are exponential.

Heart-centered leaders, lead by principles and values that have people at their core, and will positively impact individuals in their charge, as well as deliver superior business performance as an outcome of the culture that is created.

So whether you are driven by business results, making people feel valued, or both - the traits and behaviours of impactful leaders are ones to emulate.

Impacting Yourself

There is a really interesting side affect to all of this too.

The impact you have on yourself.

Imagine for a moment what it was that drew you to lead in the first place?

Was it the buzz of being in charge, the challenge of solving difficult problems, the desire to create environments for people to thrive in, perhaps a little of each of these?

Whatever is the case, it’s your chosen mission. And in choosing this mission, and becoming a leader, you are creating your personal value and contribution to the world.

And no different than the people who work for you, you too have that intrinsic human need to be of value and to feel valued.

By leading with impact, making a difference to your organisation's success, as well as to the people you lead in that endeavour, you are ultimately meeting your own human need for fulfilment through contribution and serving in the way that is best for you.

And there is nothing more important, or more exhilarating than shining as your best self.

Concluding Thoughts

In summary:

  • Impactful leaders see past the deliverables and the metrics to the human value and contribution of every individual in their charge.
  • Impactful leaders foster environments where everyone can thrive and contribute and is valued for their contribution.
  • Impactful leaders are deliberate in their choices and live and lead with certain principles and values in their day to day actions
  • Impactful leaders find their own value and contribution as humans in the way that they lead

If you'd like to learn more about my one-on-one coaching program to help you gain confidence and enhance your own impactful leadership style and approach, link here: www.magentaroads.com/accelerator 

Or if you'd prefer to self pace through the first, foundational element of the program, link here to tell me where to send your complimentary workbook 'Create My Vision.'

Supporting you on your leadership journey,

Magenta Roads, Principal, Carla Santamaria

PS. Please share if you found this helpful.


Heart-centered Leadership, Impactful Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Impact, Leading People, Meaning, Purpose

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