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What is Impactful Leadership?

By Chuck Cusumano + Jillian Broaddus






I often hear leaders say, “I want to make an impact.” However, in my experience – from my days growing up playing football to my work with coaching leaders today – the literal definition of “impact” is rooted in contact: the action of one object coming forcibly into another. Many leaders today instead think of “impact” as a common management adage, and often forget the verb that goes behind it.


How do impact and contact come into play when you step off the football field and enter the realm of leading others? To me, impactful leadership is when one leader comes in contact with their team and leaves an impression. Any forceful contact should show a noticeable dent, just as any impactful leadership should leave a mark!


This mark can materialize in a variety of ways. Start by asking yourself these questions:


  1. Are you meeting with your team on a regular basis and pushing them to grow?

  2. Are you challenging them to reach outside of their normal limits to achieve greater results?

  3. Are you caring for them as people – both personally and professionally?

When it comes to making an impact on the organization and the people I lead, I don’t want to leave the equivalent of a door ding from a rogue shopping cart; I want the airbags to deploy because of the forceful collision I had!


So, next time you say, “I want to make an impact,” think: Are you doing the hard work of an impactful leader? Are you leaving a dent?

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