Impact on Others
Improving yourself is important, but the best leaders impact others.
I was recently helping with interviews for a local university scholarship program - the candidates were amazing in many ways. Some of the standard questions asked were around accomplishments, teamwork, mistakes, and service. While most had good responses, there was an underlying trend that emerged that separated the good from the great - the ability to impact others beyond yourself.
Some of the good responses described individual accomplishments like a musical instrument first place award or an academic achievement. They might describe a mistake as missing an assignment or making a poor personal decision and how they taught themselves not to make that mistake again. All of those showed grit, awareness, and learning, but something bigger was missing.
Some of the great responses described team accomplishments like winning a sports team title or building up an organization from scratch. They described mistakes around how they negatively impacted others and how they had to work to learn from and reconcile those mistakes. Improving yourself is hard, but you only have to impact one person. Impacting others shows a deeper maturity and ability to lead people towards a greater goal.
Implications for leadership and startups
My big takeaway was that the best leaders have a far greater ability to impact others. If you improve just yourself maybe you 2x your abilities. If you help your team or your organization each 2x themselves, that becomes an exponential multiplier in impact that can have 50-100x the impact across your organization. While improving yourself is important, don’t forget the best leaders can and do impact others beyond themselves.
As you continue to develop your leadership skills, push yourself to measure not just the impact on you but the impact you are having on others. Seek out ways to make a difference in your team and community.