What’s In Your Wake? 3 Questions to Assess Your Impact

For good or for bad, we’re always influencing. What are you leaving in your wake? Here are three questions (and a few follow ups) to consider for a quick leadership litmus test.

Are you influencing the culture for the better or worse?

A great company culture takes a long time to build and a short time to damage. Are you contributing to the improvement or decline in your company’s culture? How are you leaving teams, projects, and colleagues better off from your involvement?

Do you explain or blame?

Every leader faces challenges, not all leaders are adept at working through them. The Question Behind the Question is a favorite quick read that is effective at teaching leaders and teams how to ask “what” and “how” questions that pertain to me rather than “who” and “why” questions that shift blame.

How are your relationships at work?

Do your colleagues seek you out or avoid you?  Are you respected or tolerated? Do your teammates know you have their back? Are you included in projects because of the value you bring or the title you bear?

A few months ago Seth Godin wrote a great post on “Building your backlist.” A backlist, Seth says, is what publishers call the stuff that was published a while back but is still selling. Authors and musicians have long had a backlist, yet as Seth points out, today we all do, thanks to the Internet. Our presentations, our articles, our comments, our shares, and really all our social media activities all have a very, very long shelf life.

This concept made me think about our backlist as leaders. The decisions we made, the way we treated people, the promises we did and didn’t keep, what we said on Facebook, the emails we sent praising, criticizing, or complaining – all these things make up our backlist. They might be in the past, but we do have to live with them forever. They may never surface on the Internet, but they will live on in the hearts and minds of the people we influence.

What’s that saying? “People may forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” So true when it comes to leadership.

Everything you do and say contributes to your backlist. Lead today in a way that builds a backlist you will be proud of tomorrow.