What is impact?
Impact can effectively be compared to influence. How well you influence others and can persuade them to move in a more positive direction. This at its core what impact is. Influence can be defined as a way to persuade others to rally behind a cause. Persuasion to get people interested in performing doing certain duties. Keep in mind this is not manipulation. In this context, this is positive. It is geared towards a positive influence without trying to manipulate or abuse someone into doing something. Leaders are not all about manipulation but rather trying to find ways to persuade and convince in ways that are healthy.
Why do leaders need to know about impact?
You cannot lead if you cannot influence others. You cannot lead if you cannot drive change and influence others. You cannot become a leader if people seem not to rally behind you. Leaders need to make a difference and need to be able to drive change. This change is within their organizations or communities. The change and people they drive are directly in the vicinity of these organizations. Much like a non-profit positively impacting the counties that it resides in.
Problems with saying that you want to make an impact
There are plenty of problems with saying that you want to make an impact. Many of them are glaringly obvious that they should be common sense. Let’s cover some of them:
First, how do you measure impact and influence? Leaders often want to say that they want to make a difference, but they do not define it in a way that is measurable. You have to be specific, such as I want to improve 10% of my reader’s lives by providing resources to help them learn and apply exercise and nutrition routines. That is measurable. You can know through the collection of data whether or not you have met your goal.
Second, stating that you want to make an impact is overly idealistic. It can present you as a leader to be naive and oblivious to the world. You have to work on phrasing it in a way that addresses how you want to drive change in the world in an objective way. You need to phrase the wording in a way that solidifies your purpose for driving change rather than stating that you want to make a difference.
Third and finally, wanting to make an impact can lead itself towards trying to avoid the difficult decisions. Leaders that often want to make an impact tend to overlook that they will have to make decisions in life that are difficult that negatively impact the lives of others. That is a very difficult thing that leaders are going to have to do.
What Leaders Should Be Doing Instead
Leaders should be striving to be as objective as possible. This makes it much easier for them to measure what and how they are changing the world around them. They seek to find ways to be as objective as possible with what they are doing. Without something definitive, you are nothing more than someone talking a lot of smack.
If you have data behind you, then you are likely to have something to back up your claims. You are more likely to have something that you can use to refer back to as a way to back up what you are saying. This makes it much easier for you as a leader if you ever need to transition out of one role and into another role.
This is not to say that you cannot incorporate altruistic elements with it…but focus on having something backed by data instead.