Leadership Impact: Where it Comes From

Why do some leaders make an impact, while others flounder after initial success?

Impact
Tim Irwin says “leadership failures rarely reflect a problem with the leader’s competence. Most often the fall occurs because of a breach of something inside the leader.” This is not surprising because we lead from our core. No matter how polished we become on the outside, eventually what is on the inside comes through.

Great leadership is not a technique. It comes from within. In Impact, Irwin says, “Truly engaging others flows from the essence of who we are—from our core. Management is positional; leadership is personal.”

We see this too often: “Unregulated power is one of the chief instigators of a compromised core.” Something happened along the way. Successful leadership depends on growing and protecting our core. Of course, self-awareness is key. And we must acknowledge that all is not well. “Our culture’s obsession with striving to look perfect makes us reluctant to look at our own duality—that some of our impulses are noble, while others are not so benevolent. It is not that we have yielded to our shadow, but we prefer to deny that we even have a shadow.

Power and our tendency to misuse it, is an area we need to be aware of. “Self-awareness and self regulation must grow in direct proportion to the power we exert.

Irwin discusses identifying and dealing with arrogance, the beliefs that drive our behavior, self-deception. He also stresses the need for accountability We can’t regulate our core alone. Unfortunately, too many leaders derail themselves because they think that they are too good to be held accountable by anyone else. We need to have people around us that will speak candidly with us. Accountability must be part of the organization’s culture. If it is not, the first place to look for a lack of accountability is at the very top.

Steve Reinemund, former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo told Irwin:
Accountability is being responsible to some other person or organization for the activities and actions we take. it is critical to an individuals performance and an organization’s integrity and credibility.

A good organization where high-performing people want to work is a place where people have responsibilities and accountabilities for their actions and how they perform in their jobs. High performing organizations do a great job of defining accountability and then measuring it and holding people accountable for results on a real time basis.

Some of the best organizations that I have seen are very clear and very specific about those accountabilities. If people join an organization and don’t recognize its culture of accountability, they join at their own peril.
They stay at their own peril too.

Irwin’s book is a book to keep handy and to refer to throughout the seasons of your leadership. It will help you to stay on track and lead from a solid and uncompromised core.

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