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Having a Constructive Impact on Others

by Ashley Davis-Annett

Many of you may know that Simon Sinek suggests, we should “start with why”. Sinek talks about how discovering his WHY enabled him to refuel his passion and launched him into a discovery of a more authentic leadership theory. In his recent books, he talks about learning how to lead; ways of thinking, acting and communicating that can give leaders an ability to inspire. Meanwhile, there have been a variety of other similar leadership conversations taking place across different platforms such as TED Talks, Linkedin, YouTube and keynote speeches during professional HR conferences. Brene Brown, Adam Grant and Tony Tjan to name a few, are those who have been spreading messages about leadership.

It is no secret that leadership is a flooded topic in today’s market. There are hundreds, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of resources available for its development. All of which take up a lot of space  and air time through advertising, studies and companies claiming new innovative training initiatives that can propel your leadership to the next level. Understanding and tapping into your Emotional Intelligence, evaluating your leadership through a 360 report or gaining insight into your Influencing Style Indicator® are all potential avenues for leaders to grow and develop.

What does it really mean to be a good leader? What is good leadership and what does it look like? Is leadership actually being fulfilled? According to a recent Gallop Survey, 67% of respondents answer that they are either indifferent to or want to quit their jobs. 67% is a staggering number of people, who are potentially seeking or thinking about pursuing other opportunities. Many of which may be in part due to a lack of quality leadership. “People leave managers, not companies”― Marcus Buckingham, First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently.

By definition, a leader impacts others to think and act in certain ways. Some leaders do have the ability to motivate and encourage those around them to think and act in constructive ways. The leaders’ behaviour and strategies are aligned with their attitudes and values of being a very humanistic and encouraging person. These leaders, in particular, use strategies that encourage others to strive for excellence in their work, approach problems and tasks creatively and look for many opportunities to work with and collaborate with others. The best leaders are those who go beyond just implementing training programs and focusing on competency or job skills from their direct reports. They focus on helping to shape the character of others, their values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect. Great leaders know that in the long run, there is a “hard truth about soft matters”, quoted by Tony Tjan, and that these values-based qualities matter a lot more than skill enhancement. According to studies that Human Synergistics International has been conducting for decades, leaders who have an attitude that is Humanistic-Encouraging will be motivating and supporting others, seeking opportunities to help those around them grow and develop as well as providing positive feedback.

Humanistic Encouraging Characteristics:


  • supportive
  • motivates others
  • patient
  • sensitive to the needs of others
  • helps others learn from their mistakes
  • encourages others to express their ideas
  • promotes open discussion
  • motivates by serving as a role model
  • encourages growth and development in others
  • resolves conflict constructively
  • trustworthy
  • involves others in decision-making

Further to the research, Human Synergistics has been interested in assessing the balanced use of both Prescriptive and Restrictive leadership strategies along with their correlation to the impact on the behaviours or others. Prescriptive leadership strategies are those which guide or direct the activities and behaviours of others toward goals, opportunities and methods. Restrictive strategies are those which constrain or prohibit activities and behaviours with respect to goals, opportunities and methods (research conducted by Robert A. Cook). In other words, the regular use of prescriptive leadership strategies will encourage followers to think and behave in ways that will illicit positive and constructive outcomes; whereas the regular use of restrictive strategies will discourage followers to think constructively, and might result in them thinking and acting in aggressive defensive or passive defensive ways. The top 15% most effective leaders (as measured by others) maintain an overall ratio of Prescriptive Strategies over Restrictive ones of 3:1.

Just understanding ourselves through a personality assessment, our emotional intelligence capacity or our preferred style is not enough to ensure great leadership. First and foremost, personalities can rarely be changed, or are extremely difficult to change. Our leadership capacity, growth and development come from our attitudes and behaviours which impact others. All of these, attitude, behaviour and impact should be assessed in order to ensure we are developing the best leaders; ultimately, developing everyone to lead and make a positive impact, no matter what the size. Everyone has the ability to conduct great acts of leadership.

Sources include Human Synergistics Leadership/Impact™, Simen Sinek, Tony Tjan and Marcus Buckingham