Every interaction with a leader leaves an imprint.
Think about how we respond to a leader who is calm and confident in the midst of a crisis.
Even when the situation calls for panic or fills us with uncertainty, a calm, confident and caring presence can bring the situation back into focus. We’re able to think and act more quickly and creatively. Our energy is channeled toward the steps we need to take.
When the crisis is over the imprint remains.
We learn something important about ourselves through our contact with this experience and we are better prepared to face the next challenge. We learn to find our own inner strength in the face of difficulty.
Then there are the imprints created by the judgmental, critical and reactive leader. Under the pretense of necessity, they trample the confidence of the group and assert their right to take charge. Blame is assigned, demands are made, orders are given and guilt is applied.
They leave us feeling less confident, more dependent and worried about next time.
This isn’t a new concept of course but perhaps this imagery provides a different perspective from which to examine our impact. It’s easy to undervalue the influence of even the smallest actions but rest assured there is an impression that lingers long after we have moved on.
What imprint are you leaving?
- Are you leaving an imprint of calm or anxiety?
- Are you leaving an imprint of trust of fear?
- Are you leaving an imprint of self-confidence or dependency?
- Are you leaving an imprint of curiosity or compliance?
- Are you leaving an imprint of empathy or judgment?
- Are you leaving an imprint of encouragement or frustration?
- Are you leaving an imprint of community or competition?
- Are you leaving an imprint of understanding or blame?
Maybe it would be good to pause here and reflect on the imprint you left with your coworkers, family or friends in the past 24 hours.
What do you see from their perspective?
How would you respond?
You can set your intention to leave a positive imprint on the people you serve. As you approach each opportunity be mindful of the emotions and experience you want to create. The lessons you want to teach.
Then act on your intention.
The easiest way to understand your imprint is to observe how your team responds in different situations and settings. Over time they are going to reflect what they see in you and what they have come to expect from you in similar conditions.
How do they respond to success?
How do they react to a mistake?
How well do they handle unexpected events?
How do they deal with conflict?
How willing are they to take risks?
How do they communicate?
You are looking into the mirror of your leadership.