Our business is called ‘Your Leadership Footprint’ as all of what we do is about helping our clients make an impact, an imprint on the world, leaving their mark, an appropriate mark. Whilst you may or may not make a conscious choice regarding what footprint to make, you will make a mark regardless. The question is whether it will be discernible and appropriate — or faint and disappear immediately.
To do this you do need to stop and consider how to do things to have the impact you require. How do I – respond to that e-mail so that I keep the relationship yet show a difference of opinion? How do I let my colleague know that when they behave a certain way it annoys their colleagues? How can I launch this product review in a positive and purposeful way? That capacity to consider and make a choice about how to use our talents is what helps us leave a really purposeful footprint.
As we work with managers across organisations we tend to find that there are a select band of managers who consider and monitor their footprint and adapt it as is required — probably about 15% of those we work with, in some places 20%. The impact they make by doing this is huge, for themselves and for others. Invariably they stand out for doing so and people want to work with them — even though they can be very demanding.
Approximately the same number are toxic managers who cause havoc wherever they go, not leaving a mere footprint more a large hole in the ground with bodies at the bottom, or a footprint on the throat of those around them, who care little for what they leave for others. By and large they are unable to alter their thinking, despite evidence that those who work around them, for them and with them are actively disengaged — and in many instances will work hard to sabotage them!
That leaves about another 60% who largely keep doing what they have always done, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not so and every now and again trying something for a week or two. Sometimes inspired, sometimes less so — inconsistency can be their forte. These are often good people who are not quite able to retain their focus or choose the best options — and often have large amounts of untapped potential — and could be more satisfied.
Which are you? How many people would tell you that you had made a real difference to the way they operate, the way they think, the way they do things? Equally how many have you listened to and learnt from, allowing their footprint on you? People are drawn to good managers — and their footprint may last with them forever, but it rarely just happens — it takes continual effort, but in small pieces. Know when to broaden your focus to include the how and the other parties perspectives and that pause will save you time in both the short and long term.