Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. – Albert Einstein

Daniel Goleman argues that leadership style has a 70% impact on an organization’s climate which in turn impacts business performance. Drea Zigarmi describes the connection between leadership style, the passion of employees, and the impact on the bottom line.

Leaders influence a variety of outcomes —  including turnover, customer satisfaction, sales, revenue, productivity, and more. Good leadership creates employee engagement and passion, which lead to higher levels of customer loyalty, service, innovation, and ultimately profits.

The evidence of good leadership on organizational performance is clear. Isn’t it?

It’s human nature to want to see a quick return on our investments. When it comes to technical training, it’s really easy to see the results. If you send somebody to a typing class, you can sit there and watch them type and know that they’ve learned something.

But when it comes to leadership development, it often takes a while to see the impact of that work. The results are more subjective and dependent on the situation.

However, like technical skills, leadership skills will improve over time the more the skills are practiced and invested in. As the saying goes, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Much like a business where successful returns come with consistent contributions of capital, developing leadership skills takes a steady, focused investment and perseverance.

As business people we need to take a hard look at whether the investment that we are making in leadership and development is effective and productive. But here’s the thing: Training alone doesn’t have a huge return – a couple leadership classes probably won’t have that big of an impact on performance.

The other day I was speaking with a client who was very skeptical about training. He shared that when he sends people to training they come back and feel good about it, but nothing changes in their behavior.

He’s right to be skeptical. There is no magic bullet when it comes to leadership development. Impact comes from a combination of training, coaching, and organizational development with a dose of high expectations. Combine these activities with feedback and a developmental culture, and soon you’ve got real progress and real results.

The most effective leaders know that successful leadership starts with looking in the mirror.

There was a team we had been working with over a period of several months, when one of the senior leaders got some pretty tough feedback on how he was showing up.

He took the feedback to heart. He didn’t get defensive. He took responsibility.

Then he set out to change his relationship with the team by building relationships, by giving more positive feedback, by being authentic and curious and by connecting with each individual around the mission and vision of the organization.

As a result, how that team viewed the leader began to shift, as did their performance. All because he decided to look in the mirror and change his behaviors as opposed to expecting somebody else to change. It took courage. And time.

We do good to do well. We believe doing the right things will lead to success.

Having engaged, trained, effective folks is good for all of us – it’s good for business and it’s good for society. And that’s the true impact of effective leadership.



Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

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