Author: Roger Osbaldiston (view Roger Osbaldiston's Blog here)
Date: November 1st, 2021
Most of us have a desire to have a positive impact on the world around us.
It sounds good, right? But what does it actually mean?
My assumption is that as leaders we desire to have a positive impact on the world around us. No good leader wants to deliberately have a negative impact on their families, communities, companies, organizations or cities. However, it is important to think about this intentionally as all leaders create ripples around them and our impact is never neutral. Being unintentional, may mean we could be leaving a negative wake in some areas, so it's important to be self aware and focused on creating positive impact.
I have the privilege of leading the global team for LeaderImpact. At LeaderImpact our mission statement is to:
“Help leaders grow personally, professionally and spiritually for increasing impact”.
So, what might “Impact” mean in practice?
One dictionary says that impact is “to have a strong effect on someone or something”.
Positive impact is about having a sustained and positive effect or influence on people, groups of people, an organization or culture. I believe that, just as we can think of our growth as a leader in personal, professional and spiritual terms, we can also look at our impact in similar terms.
“HELP LEADERS GROW PERSONALLY, PROFESSIONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY FOR INCREASING IMPACT.”
— LeaderImpact Global Mission Statement
Impact can first of all be thought of personally in terms of the people that we impact, whether they be family, friends, close connections, colleagues, employers, employees or acquaintances.
What is the impact you are creating personally? In your key relationships?
In his book “Becoming a Leader of Impact”, Braden Douglas describes impact in terms of leadership as “influence that inspires others towards perpetual positive behaviour” (p20).
In his book, Braden also recommends a reflection exercise where we create a list of the core relationships that we have, and consider our impact in them (p93-94). This is a great but challenging exercise! You can list your immediate family, extended family, professional and social connections and identify your most key relationships, and ask for each one:
What is their personal purpose or goal?
What is one thing I can do to help them with that?
This kind of intentionality can result in a simple yet profound positive impact in people’s lives.
A second aspect is having an impact professionally.
We spend much of our time working, and while we may be doing a good job and generating an income, we can sometimes limit the extent of our impact professionally.
I have noticed that people often think about their impact at work, or through their profession, in terms of being a good worker, being a leader of high integrity, and generally a nice person who cares about the wellbeing of others and their organization.
This is certainly the right place to start, but it is not sufficient to leave it there.
We were created for more!
As my friend Steven Garber writes in his book Visions of Vocation - “vocation is integral, not incidental to the Missio Dei” (p18). Or in my words - our vocation, our calling, our life’s work, is integral to what God has placed us on this earth for, and is central to God’s mission in the world.
Imagine that! Our vocation and daily work is central to what God is doing in the world!
This does not just include so-called ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ work, or even “good works” like social justice or helping people - though these must be included for sure. There are many needs and causes in the world and we need leaders to create a positive impact in these arenas. However, positive impact also includes all the good work that is necessary for the working and wellbeing of a civil society and a good and functioning world. God is integrally invested in our daily work, be it leading, accounting, marketing, financing, banking, coding, teaching, engineering, governing, farming, gardening and more. In fact, gardening is probably the first work God gave humans in Genesis in the Bible. God’s first commissioning of us as humans from the beginning, was to work, to rule over the world and take care of it (Genesis 1-2).
Whether you are a “butcher, baker or candlestick maker”, all are avenues and opportunities for creating positive impact. And not just by being a nice and honest butcher, baker or candlestick maker, but also by creating great cuts of meat, making great bread and crafting excellent candles. Before Jesus was a great teacher and miracle worker, he was a carpenter - and I suspect he made great tables. And God was pleased with it (Matthew 3:17).
Andy Crouch in his book “Culture Making” says a key part of our work is to be creators of culture. Not just ‘consumers, critics or condemners’ of it.
Through our professional lives, our day to day work, we can be part of leading and creating lasting and sustained positive impact on the world. By working in our professions to the best of our ability, we can influence them by bringing needed positive change.
To be a good lawyer is not just to be an honest and efficient one - you can be an bearer of justice.
To be a good teacher is not just to be an honest and efficient one - you can be an agent of learning.
To be a good farmer is not just to be an honest and efficient one - you can feed the world.
To be a good builder is not just to be an honest and efficient one - you can be a provider of great homes.
And to be a champion of important causes where positive change is greatly needed - is also to reflect the “missio Dei”.
Together, this is how we impact the world for good professionally.
How can you see your profession as a place for sustained and positive influence?
It is not just a paycheck. It is a place for creating positive impact.
Now, let's consider the spiritual.
I believe people are eternal. We are spiritual beings.
To have a positive spiritual impact is perhaps a combination of the personal and professional, with the added dimensions of eternity and the spiritual reality. Both our personal and professional impact can be motivated by our spiritual lives. For example, we may be motivated to care for those around us, or make our organisation a great place for people to work because of God’s command to love others.
By recognising that our existence on this earth is not all there is to life, also puts our lifespan in greater perspective. If we are to spend eternity either in God’s presence, or separated from Him causes us to evaluate our life a s leadership from a spiritual and eternal perspective.
I believe the greatest discovery we can make is to know God, through his son, Jesus. To help others get to know God also, and discover their potential as a spiritual being, is the greatest thing we can engage in with others. This is an eternally positive impact!
Where are you in your spiritual journey? How does it affect your impact personally, professionally, and as a leader? How can you influence others towards spiritual growth?
Finally, it can be helpful to mentally consider the personal, professional and spiritual separately as we have done, but it is only when we are seeking to grow and lead in an integrated way, that we can have our best impact. In reality, we cannot separate them. Our personal lives overflow into our work and our spiritual perspectives influence all of our life and leadership.
The sweet spot for our impact is at the intersection of our personal, professional and spiritual leadership.
As you consider your life and leadership, is there a point of intersection that you can see where these things come together? What is your “sweet spot”.
One of the things I love to do is being in mentoring relationships with people. I find that in these types of relationships and conversations I can engage my professional skills in leadership and life direction, challenge our faith and spiritual growth, and share personal stories of life experiences. I think that's a sweet spot for me, for positive impact in others lives, and my own.
How about you? What would you like to do next?
In LeaderImpact we also like to use the phrase “Positive Impact Starts Here!”
Can you take a few minutes now to reflect on your impact?
Positive impact starts with us.
What are some ideas that come to mind for how you can have an increasing positive impact?
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