Leadership Impact

| By TMA World

There is only one piece of advice I would give to men and women entering a leadership role for the first time: Remember, everything – yes, everything – you do makes an impact, for better or worse, and so try to be consciously impactful.  

Steve Blank, originator of the Lean Startup Movement tells the story of starting up Ardent, a supercomputing company. Ben Wegbreit, VP of Engineering, broke his foot skiing just as the company started.

Every day, Ben would hobble into the office wearing a suit, a regular shoe, and a sneaker on his broken foot.  He soon started hiring for his engineering team.  In the interviews, his engineers wore different attire, but mostly jeans and khakis.

After a few days of starting work, the engineers started to wear suits and sneakers.  Soon he had a team of about 10 engineers trying to look like him.  Ben was totally unaware of his impact.  No memo had gone out on dress code.

The day came when Ben arrived at the office wearing a suit and regular shoes.  What to do?

Some of the engineers went home at lunch time and changed, some into shoes, some dropped the suit.  Most started wearing regular shoes the next day.  By the end of the second day no one was wearing sneakers.

This example is hardly world-shattering, but it does point to how –even inadvertently – a leader can influence the organizational/team culture around him or her.  Small acts – whether conscious, unconscious, or purely accidental can send ripples or waves across the cultural pond.

Team culture is too important to be left to chance or our unconscious biases.  Being consciously impactful is not just about being self-aware of introspective.  You must engage yourself and your team in a courageous conversation:

  • What kind of team culture (values, norms, behaviors) will work best for us as a team?
  • What am I doing right now that supports the culture we want?
  • What am I doing right now that works against the culture we want?
  • What can I do differently?
  • What can we do differently?
  • How will we check our progress?

Make your leader impact count for something beyond the dress code! 

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