The Other “I” Word

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With lots of focus on innovation, let’s not forget about focusing on impact.

In her book, Student-Centered Leadership, Vivane Robinson reminds leaders that how we label our leadership style (i.e., transformational, authentic, innovative, etc.) is less important than the IMPACT our leadership practices have on our colleagues and students:

“Leadership styles, such as transformational, transactional, democratic, or authentic leadership, are abstract concepts that tell us little about the behaviors involved and how to learn them. The current emphasis on leadership practices movies leadership away from the categorization of leaders as being of a particular type to a more flexible and inclusive focus on identifying the effects of broad sets of leadership practices.”

Amy Cuddy, an Associate Professor at Harvard, has studied the significance of focusing on incremental impact, and found that it leads to more long-term success on goals. Certainly, many nonprofits understand that measuring impact is important, at all levels:

“On a macro or micro level, devoting less energy to a grand outcome and more energy toward incremental impact is key to true and sustained transformation.”

If you have 24 minutes, take a listen to a podcast on CauseTalk Radio, where the hosts talk to Leslie Engle Young, teacher and Director of Impact at Pencils of Promise. You’ll hear about why the organization created a position specifically focused on impact, and the measures used to focus on outcomes rather than outputs.

Don’t have 24 minutes? Take 6 and watch this video of John Hattie, who loops it back to Vivane Robinson and others in “knowing thy impact”:

(If you’re a Roger Federer fan, listen for the reference)


Join the conversation…how have you focused in impact, and what are your experiences?


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