Executive Conundrum #2: Influence & Impact

May 2, 2023. By Lori Brewer Collins

8 Trees and a Hawk, Washington by Jerry Park

This article is the second in a three-part series.

“The company where I work is going through so much disruption these days. Not only that, but the players keep changing.

Decisions get made and then they’re unmade. There seems to be no clear center to how to adhere to agreed strategies. And when we do have that clarity, my team is often disrupted by another voice from within the C-suite or by competing priorities from other functions.

So much is outside my control. That really puts into question what kind of impact I’m really having and has me thinking about the horizon of my career and what I might possibly contribute before I run out of time and energy.

How do I expand my influence and impact?

I wonder if there is life for me beyond this organization. I’m in good health, so I’m probably looking at a solid third act of twenty plus more years. I am asking myself what might my lasting legacy be.

Maybe it’s time for a new direction, one that leverages who I am at this juncture in my life. I’ve already proven myself in the world of commerce. Is it time to consider a more influential role within another organization? Should I seek out board positions? Join the advisory committee of a non-profit? Take up mentoring or coaching? What contributions could I be making in the world for younger generations—and for the generations to come?”

Come to me with this conundrum and I will invite you to focus on two things—what you can control and what you know to be true—and, within those, to discern what feels integrity-filled for you.

By what you can control I mean things like how you hold yourself centered in the midst of all that is going on. The moments you choose to speak (or not). The caliber of what you contribute. The quality of the energy you put into what you do.

By what you know to be true I mean things like being the “real” you—and knowing that authenticity cannot be taken away from you. Things like how you surround yourself with artifacts, reminders that, beyond any results people may or may not recognize you for, you are doing good work.

Early in your career, you most likely wanted to get to a place of power where you might have influence and impact. Now at the executive level, you are at that place.

Amusingly, the horizon has shifted much further out and you cannot always see all the influence and impact you are having or could have. (Which goes to show you, no matter how high you rise within an organization, there will still be constraints.)

Accurately seeing who you are influencing and what you are impacting right now requires taking yourself out of the action. This is your opportunity to eliminate the Sisyphus factor in your work. This is not the time in your career for you to be constantly pushing the same rock up the same hill. It is the time for you to carefully look at each battle, consider what you have left in you, and choose which ones you want to fight.

To do that, you need to be able to look down on what’s happening on your playing field and the players long enough to be able to see the dynamics of the situation and yourself in it. Even from this perspective, you won’t be able to see everything. You’ll want to take in other people’s perspectives, as well, to cover off your blind spots and increase your awareness of the infinity loop of polarities that exist around you.

I find that mindfulness practices, on the one hand, help you see yourself in the context of a broader, complex reality. They can allow you to name “what is” with more clarity and objectivity so you can figure out your most effective next move(s). On the other hand, mindfulness practices can heighten your intuitive knowing. They can support you in not only receiving those internal nudges that tell you this is the moment to put yourself forward and speak, but also in building confidence to listen to that inner wisdom. If mindfulness practices are not for you, explore alternative activities that can help you understand reality more broadly, more fully, and more comprehensively.

This all speaks to “deepening your rudder”, as I mentioned in my previous article.

Next up is Executive Conundrum #3.


Photo credit: Jerry Park, “Eight Trees and a Hawk”, Slow Roads America.

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