In this third and final piece of our series, let’s examine some practical ways you can begin to incorporate Impact into your daily life and the life of your business.
The 30,000ft View
Startup life is chaotic. Within that chaos it is easy to run with side blinders on, narrowly focused on only your own business. If you want to begin to build real impact, embrace your expertise and think about it as it relates to your industry as a whole. Reach out to partners within your industry or in complementary industries. Know the public policies that affect your business or industry and get involved with an advocacy group or association. Stay current in your broader arms of influence and help educate others – whether that be through writing, speaking or physically attending events. Here at the Institute, we use this blog to share some of our insights but we don’t stop there. There are scheduled speaking engagements, regular guest writing as well as conferences and events. In the midst of the entrepreneur’s 100 hour work week it can seem like a distraction to take time for some these activities but the compound effect is a vital piece of using your business to build impact.
Train Your Assassins
This section title is credited to Kelly Hoey, influential writer and speaker. In a recent lunch with her, I was inspired by this fun description which alludes to simple human interaction. When you hire good people, get to know them on a personal level and then empower them to achieve great things, not only does your organization reap the benefits, so does the greater community and the world. People want to be valued. We all have a voice, an opinion, a point of view. By no means should you replace valuing and listening with coddling. This has the opposite effect but no matter how big or small your organization is, you can take two minutes on a Monday morning to ask your receptionist how her weekend was. You can know that Sam in accounting loves the color blue or project manager Gary is Reds fan. It may amount to small moments of conversation but you should never discount the compound effect of simply caring about other humans.
And most important, let others know you as well. After all, I didn’t call this section train to be an assassin, I called it train your assassins. There is a fine line between being the boss or leader and being vulnerable but it is an important distinction. True human impact comes from a place of reciprocity. Your employees should know enough about the man/woman behind the curtain to be comfortable sharing their own stories. It doesn’t diminish your power as a leader. In fact it increases it.
There was a construction company CEO that I worked with a few years ago who struggled with the high turnover in his industry. More than the cost of constantly finding and training new talent, he had personal feelings of disconnect from his employees. One Friday after completing a large project successfully, he decided to celebrate with a parking lot BBQ. Over hamburgers, hot dogs and chips he found something he hadn’t even realized the organization needed, a sense of connection. From that day forward he grills out with his employees after every event and it’s become a vital part of the company culture, bringing about greater loyalty, worker satisfaction and less turnover. Who would have predicted a simple BBQ could mean so much? Are there small ways you could increase the human connection at your company? It could make a bigger impact that you think.
It starts within
We have all heard the advice, you have to step back and work “on” your business rather than “in” your business. Easier said than done however there is a critical piece of that advice that relates specifically to impact. Too many of us put off the big thoughts of who we want our professional personna to be and what we want our organization to represent – basically the “why” of our organizational existence. Simon Sinek in Start with Why, outlines a business model that turns that notion on its head. Before we start into the what we do and how we do it, we should spend real time thinking through the why. It adjusts our perspective and our focus. Don’t put it off. It is easy to get caught in the minutiae of the business at hand and before you realize you have allowed the culture of your organization to morph into something completely outside your values. Set aside time each week to and certainly before any major pivots in your business to write down the why.
In business, in relationships, in life, it is the small consistent decisions that bring about the compound effects of real Impact. Make a conscious choice about your values and build your decision making lens around that. Let go of the outcome and trust. We will all be better off for it.
And as always, keep asking…
What are you InPursuit of?