Do you know how many people are directly affected by the work you do? I ask leadership teams this question, and they usually they answer with the number of people they employ—75 or 100 or 120. “How about your vendors, employees’ families, and all your customers?” I ask. Some light bulbs start turning on, and they’ll guess a couple thousand.
Even a couple thousand is a low number. Your work and your team makes a huge difference. A number of years ago, my team crunched some numbers and determined that the average company of 100 employees directly affects 10,000 people. This includes all of your staff, your families, your vendors and partners, your customers and their teams, and then all the work you do in the community.
The Leadership Team Your Company Deserves
Consider that a moment, let the weight of it sink in. For every 100 people you employ, you’re impacting the livelihood of 10,000 individual lives—people you will never meet. Now, with that in mind, is your leadership team the great team your company deserves?
When I ask this to teams, I’m not just referencing how they work as a team, but the skills of each individual leader. I don’t think leaders truly grasp the power of the work they do. They forget in midst of the day-to-day grind. They forget that it’s in the second conversation with a team member who isn’t performing, or the apology to a customer for an oversight, or even in the pat on the back to the account manager who went the extra mile.
In every session I have with a client, I ask them to start the day with some great news—one thing personal and one thing professional. I do this for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is to help them see their impact. I usually say, “Because you all bring beauty into the world in two ways: personally and professionally.” I think some get it, but most go through the motions and forget the difference they’re making.
Will the ten thousand people who count on you be better or worse due to the work you’re doing? And what does that even look like?
What Does Positive Leadership Really Look Like?
I believe when we are open, honest, and respectful, we’re almost always creating positive change. But we don’t always understand what that looks like. Many leaders worry about the negative impact of having tough conversations, or the affects of letting someone go. They fear that they’re failing these people or doing harm in some way.
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In fact, it’s actually just the opposite. It is in those times when we have those open and honest conversations that we are really affecting people’s lives for the better. It may not feel that way, but these are the times when the best leaders really shine.