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What it means to lead with impact

Effective and purposeful leadership means being inclusive, inspiring, and a little bit iconoclastic.

What it means to lead with impact
[Source Images: ismagilov/iStock, yamonstro/iStock]

We live in a time of deep distrust in institutions: Globally, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 47% of those surveyed said they trust the media to “do what is right;” 48% trust government, and slightly more than half trust nongovernmental organizations and businesses. Three-quarters of respondents, however, said they trust their employers to do the right thing. Now seems like a great time for bosses to lead holistically and purposefully–thinking about their communities, customers, and employees alongside growth in sales and profits. Our editors asked a few members of the Fast Company Impact Council, a leadership group made up of founders, innovative executives, and creative businesspeople, to tell us a bit more about what it means to lead with impact.

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Jessica Icilsoy, founder and CEO, California Baby
“To me, leading with impact requires one to fight against the popular tide with conviction and not be afraid to set higher and higher standards to bring about real change.”

Susan McPherson, founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies
“Business leaders have the power to affect change on the biggest challenges our society faces today, from climate change to xenophobia to gun violence. True leaders stand up and speak out when their values come under threat and the rights of their employees, workers and customers are at stake. Today, leading with impact and integrity means not being silent on the issues that matter, even—and especially—when it’s not easy.”

Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and CEO, Birchbox
“[It’s] shaping the next generation of leadership. These are the leaders my kids will aspire to and work for . . . my intent is to show them a brand of leadership that continues to dream big about the future we can invent together, while coupling that vision and confidence with deep humility.”

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder, chairwoman and CEO, Care.com
“A coach once asked me to ask myself what motivates me when I’m leading a room full of people: Is my goal to impress or to inspire? Impressing people may help people remember you or one specific thing you said. But, if your overall goal is to drive outcomes, inspiring people to take action can lead to greater positive impact. I believe inspiration can truly amplify our impact.”

Gina Bianchini, founder and CEO, Mighty Networks
“To lead with impact to me means thinking ‘outside in.’ I’ve found that starting with the result I want to achieve with the other person, as opposed to starting with what I want to communicate (a subtle but important distinction). What do I mean by results I want to achieve? It could mean the feeling I want someone to have in interacting with me or one of my ideas, the motivation I want to create among others, and/or the goals I want someone to internalize and make their own.”

Shane Wall, chief technology officer and global head of HP Labs
“As chief technology officer of a company whose very mission is to innovate, the mandate is simple yet critical: make the right decisions to ensure the company is thriving in another 30 years. And that mission starts with the company’s culture, basically how innovation is culture. If you foster that mentality with your teams and have an unwavering commitment to company values, that’s when true impact happens.”

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Vince Campisi, senior vice president & chief digital officer for United Technologies Corporation
“For me it means the following: Inspiring and helping others to deliver outcomes—meaningful, important, and lasting outcomes. It’s about committing so deeply to achieving that result that not only do you leave your lasting impression on it, but it also leaves a permanent impression on you—one that changes how you think, see, and feel.”

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