Leaders have an extraordinary impact on their organizations, stakeholder and environment. This impact leads to one of the most important tasks for leaders: Empowering the people arround themselves so that they can also have a positive impact and build something great together with their leader. Therefore, leaders need to be able to create and systems, processes and corporate cutures that enable such an empowerment and with it sustainable, long-lasting successes.
In the following article, Tina Deutsch, Co-foundress and Managing Partner at Haufe Advisory, is going to explain how you as a leader can use your leadership impact to create environments that boost the ideas of your employees and ensure your long-lasting strategic success.
What is Leadership Impact?
Leadership Impact is put together by two crucial terms, whose definition will probably be interpreted differently by everyone.
Let’s start with the term leadership. For me, leadership means to develop structures, systems and a corporate culture where employees can unfold themselves and experience, use and develop their potential. Developing such structures, processes, organization and culture, in which everybody can show their strengths, is used where he fits best and can use his power, is a huge challenge. The basic reason of leadership is to create exactly this environment – in the end, leaders are some form of “servants” of the employees working in an organization, who’s task it is to ask what these people need in order to have an impact. What needs to be present and what stands in their way that hinders them to unfold their full power? If these obstacles are structures, systems or processes or a poisoned corporate culture, people cannot get into their proper work and cannot have an impact.
On the second place of this term there is the word impact. Impact means having an effect on something or generating ideas and implementing them. The combination of impact and leadership is beautiful because together they have a leverage effect.
As a leader, especially when doing ones job well and positively, one can also make other people have an impact and maybe in the future help hundreds of people to have an impact through creating systems, processes and a culture that enables them to do so. Even popstars or sports(wo)men, who create a followership and use it for other good causes and send a message for an important topic, have an impact. Only by creating such a followership, which is by the way also a form of leadership, a person can generate a leverage effect and make people join their power for a common cause. And as a leader, it is not much different in my opinion.
The Caring Aspect in leadership
“Leadership is not about being in charge, but about taking care of those you are in charge of”
This quote from Simon Sinek perfectly describes the dimension of care leadership, the aspect of taking care of each other, that play a huge role in leadership impact. The term “psychological safety”, meaning establishing an atmosphere where everybody feels comfortable to express what they really feel and think, also is important when it comes to leadership impact. For this you need a lot of trust. There are many cultures where people hold back their real opinion and it is a challenge that also in bigger meeting everybody says what they mean and not just nod approvingly and feel bad afterwards. This is where the aspect of care leadership comes in.
Mainly, the little single building bricks that are responsible for being successful. To be in a position as an organization to expect high performance, leaders should pay attention to transparency, respect, the health of their employees and a clear and open communication.
Examples that foster this caring culture are tabled that are adjustable for height to mind your employees’ health. Or yoga session to be able to concentrate and focus better. Or it could also just be commonly organized meals to have time to talk to each other.
What forms a leader that leaves an impact?
That is what I’ve been asked just lately and I have to say: defining clear character traits of leaders that have a positive impact, is a difficult task. Some leaders have a huge impact, others a smaller one. Many have an impact in the short run, some don’t have impact in the short run at all but instead a sustainable one that lasts.
In case the goal is “No matter the cost, in the next half year I’m going to reach goals X” a lot can be achieved by pressure. But pressure is not a good method to sustainably inspire people and achieve success in the long run. In a crisis or in the military leadership works differently than in a non-profit-organization.
For me, when one really wants to define traits, a combination of challenge and safe space is the true game changer. A feel-good environment alone where everyone is nice and happy with each other and there is never a challenge, won’t lead to much. In my opinion, it is very important to directly challenge and talk to people, employees and colleagues, if things aren’t going as planned. Unfortunately, leaders, especially on the CEO levels, rarely get constructive feedback and have to actively ask their employees for it. But feedback to topics that did not work out well is so important as it enables growth. Establishing a surface of friction combined with the feeling of security that feedback or criticism won’t lead to negative consequences and that all can learn and grow together, is an important skill.
My impact through coaching – chances and risks
As executive consultant I myself are very convinced that executive coaching can create enormous benefits for humans, organizations and society, as long as it is used in a correct way. The problem that one often encounters here is that the coaching function is often not used in a way that actually creates value. In this case many different interests come together that do not follow the goal of “Endowing sense and values” but rather want to generate revenue or use capacities.
Generally speaking the use of external expertise, competence and capacity for special topics is a good idea because not everybody can be an expert in everything. It is quite similar in personal coaching, just more on an individual level. One single coaching session can change CVs and emotions drastically. This can lead to huge impacts on the success of companies and therefore also society.
But how should we implement these (executive) coaching measures to be successful? These measures should for no means be seen as an opportunity to remove something that is already going down. Coaching has to be requested proactively and not reactively.
The optimum would be to use coaching when there already exists a vision and a strategy and people know where they are headed. Then you look for gaps in you competence and think about which ones you want to build up mindfully and which should better be left behind. This could be competencies that you already have and do not want to develop them any further or competencies, that you do not have so far but want to improve them for the future.
Just then, when you have clear goals in mind, coachings and trainings can be implemented in a valuable way and have a positive effect. What do you really want to achieve? What should be the result at the end of a measure? These are the questions that you need to answer before starting any kind of activities in the direction of leadership development.
About the author
Tina Deutsch is CEO and foundress of the trainer- and coach-matching-platform Klaiton and is now currently managing partner of Haufe Advisory. Her power and motivation come from her family and sports. She wants to leave her very personal impact at her beloved ones. For her it is crucial that the people that are important to her are happy and that she did her best, in private and professionally, to contribute to their happiness. That is how she wants to contribute her part and she tries to leave her impact and shape the professional world day by day. In the long run, she does not only want to shape the business world but also the sociopolitical area.