What Do You Want Your Leadership Impact to Be?

When you consider the leaders in your life who have inspired you the most, what qualities and characteristics come to mind?

Chances are, these leaders have been confident, assured and genuinely committed to be the best leaders they could be. They also probably expressed their leadership qualities in ways that made you think, “I want to do that someday!” Given these attributes, I would bet that the leaders you consider influential in your career spent significant time considering what they wanted their impact to be and what they desired to achieve from their respective careers.

It seems obvious, right? If a person chooses to become a leader, they must have good, solid reasons for doing so. Well, the truth is that most of the reasons people cite for wanting to become leaders may not be the most ideal reasons to follow the leadership path. Was it the extra perks – company car, corner office and a larger salary that were enough to compel them to step into leadership? 

Over time, a separation happens: Leaders who have taken the time to reflect and find their “why” continue to rise, continuously inspiring their teams to deliver outstanding performances. Those who failed to examine their why might feel disconnected from their true purpose, which makes the leadership role feel more like a job that might not be as satisfying or impactful. It can become very transactional and task oriented, which does not drive engagement or results. They may lack the ability to inspire others if they do not feel inspired themselves, and this has a ripple effect on their team. 

Have you taken the time to reflect on what you really want from your leadership career? What is the impact you want to have? What is the legacy you want to leave behind? Or are you afraid to answer this question honestly, as your motivation for stepping into leadership wasn’t about people and supporting others’ success?  

Do You Desire to Lead Others?

Think about this question for a while. Is leadership really what you’re looking for? Do you prefer to work as an individual contributor, as that feels more comfortable for you? Or do you get inspired and excited by being the go-to person who brings people together and unites them toward common goals? Leading others comes with a high degree of responsibility that is often not expressed when individuals are being recruited into leadership positions. 

Some people might look ahead at their career paths and see leadership as the next logical step, as there might not be many other options available depending on the organization and structure.  They might not be genuinely interested in inspiring others or developing talent for the company. And guess what? These individuals may tend to become the kinds of leaders who struggle with creating high-performing teams and lack the skills to develop future leaders for the organization. They aren’t bad people, nor do they necessarily make bad employees. However, they can become barriers to success simply because they are not embracing their why and being intentional about the impact they desire to have. Their motivations may not be aligned with leadership’s true purpose, and for most organizations, it is all about people and creating an environment that fuels productivity, innovation and collaboration.  

I often say to individuals and groups that I work with, “Do not underestimate the level of responsibility that comes with leadership!” You are impacting others’ lives, and your role is to help them develop, find their why and zero in on their desired impact.

Here’s the truth: If you don’t feel the compelling desire to support others’ success, or if you haven’t felt an unexplainable calling to lead, leadership might not be right for you. It is all about people, relationships and trust. If you don’t get inspired by those things, then being an amazing individual contributor might be the ideal path for you.  

On the other hand, there are many leaders who feel called to their careers, and they possess a deep desire to lead and support others’ success. Anything is possible when there is openness and a desire to be part of something bigger, and serving others is a foundational aspect of inspiring, impactful leadership.

As you take a step back to observe where you are on your career path, it’s critical to check in with yourself and ask what you really want your impact to be.

Here are some clarifying questions that will help you better understand what drives you:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
    A lot of people pause when they are asked this question, and I think it’s an important one. Picture yourself five years into the future: What does your ideal life look like? Is your leadership career going to take you there? Or is it going to get in the way of what you are truly passionate about?
  • What do you actually need?
    What is missing from your life and-or career? Are your needs being met, or are you still striving for a life that gives you what you truly need? Most importantly, will your path of leadership bring you to the place where your needs have been met?
  • What bothers you in life and work?
    Having a strong sense of self-awareness means establishing and practicing healthy boundaries. Intellectually and emotionally evolved people understand that it’s necessary to cut out aspects of life that do not serve them. Ask yourself what bothers you. Is your leadership career going to put you in situations that you are not willing to handle? Or is it going to help you conquer challenging opportunities? Do you have the fortitude to engage in a leadership career that presents you with difficult challenges on a regular basis? Or are you inspired by the chance to make positive changes?
  • What makes you happy?
    Happiness should not be underestimated. Sadly, many leaders put their happiness on the back burner, thinking that they can make time to be happy once they have gotten their work done. To me, this is just a recipe for burnout and disengagement. I urge you to really ask yourself what makes you happy, and then focus on the aspects of your career in leadership that would bring you happiness and fulfillment. Is your current leadership path conducive to the things in life that bring you happiness?
  • What are your priorities?
    Figuring out what you want is one thing. Determining how badly you want it is another. As you consider what you want out of life and leadership, what is most important to you? What do you value and prize above all else? Will your role as a leader make it easier for you to live and work according to your personal priorities?
  • Are you in the right organization?
    Some leaders find themselves in the right profession, but in the wrong organization. As you consider what you want, I suggest shining a light on the organization you are leading. Can you get what you want in your current organization? Do the organizational values align with your personal values? Or do you see yourself constantly looking for greener pastures elsewhere? Practically speaking, do you see yourself fitting within the organization’s culture, with the hours, travel schedule and meetings being the way they are? Or do you see your leadership vision being stifled by the nature of your current organization?

These questions can help you identify your true wants and desires, as they relate to not only a leadership career, but any career in general. For most leaders, they confirm what they have felt for a long time: Leadership is their calling, and they are excited to continue pursuing their current path. However, other leaders may question themselves only to find that they have a lot of work to do in order to determine if leadership is truly their calling and most ideal career path.

The Power of Visualization 

Getting what you want out of your career requires action from you. You will need to work hard and challenge yourself with the right questions to get to where you want to be. I also believe it’s important to visualize what you want out of life and what the future could be based on your dreams and goals.

As you consider where you might find yourself in five years, take some time to build a vision of what your ideal life and career would look like. This may sound like daydreaming, but it’s actually a very powerful process to manifest it into reality. When you consistently visualize what you want, it is more than likely to come to reality as a result of being intentional and focused.  It’s not magic – it’s simply you using your mind to be laser focused on what you want to achieve.  Athletes do this as a common practice before they compete, so why not apply the same philosophy in life and business? The more you do this, the more you will be able to make choices in your life that move you closer to where you see yourself.

Don’t have time to engage in this visualization practice? I would suggest making it a part of your meditation or mindfulness regime. Or you can build it into your daily routine somehow – at the gym or on your daily commute into the office. Whenever you have a moment available to look inward, I would suggest practicing visualization. It can help you identify what you really want, and it will help you get there faster.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can visualize your way to leadership success, I’ll be covering that topic in my next post, so stay tuned.

What You Want Matters!

Regardless of where you stand right now, taking time to figure out what you really, truly want out of life and work is critical. It builds self-awareness, which is crucial for effective leadership and it keeps you focused on what’s important, which allows you to ensure that your people are always your number one priority.

Leaders who understand the impact they want to have are most likely to deliver exceptional performance and results.

Leaders who are unclear may struggle and find it difficult to move the needle on engaging their people to deliver the desired outcomes.

What kind of leader are you?

I would love to know what you think of this piece, so please reach out with your thoughts, questions and comments. Email me at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or give me a call at 1.855.871.3374.

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