Impact Players – Liz Wiseman
The people who make an impact in an organization.
Categories of contributors in the workplace
- High-impact contributors: These people are doing work of exceptional value and impact.
- Typical contributors: These are smart and talented people who are doing solid work.
- Under-contributors: These are smart and talented people who are playing below their ability.
The difference between the impact players and the contributors is their mode of thinking. It’s learnable and coachable, thus available to everyone. A leader can instill the impact player mindset in an entire team.
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How Impact Players see everyday challenges
Impact players look for opportunities in new terrain with new obstacles, while others may see it as a threat.
Typical contributors approach difficult situations as a nuisance and try to avoid rather than face the problem. Impact players figure out how to turn it into an opportunity.
Impact players see an unclear direction and changing priorities as a chance to add value.
Key differentiators between Impact Players and their colleagues
Do the job that’s needed. When dealing with messy problems, impact players address the needs of the organization. They do the job that needs to be done.
Step up. Impact players get things started and involve others while the rest wait for direction.
- They finish strong while enforcing a culture of accountability.
- They adapt quickly to change because they interpret new rules and targets as opportunities for learning and growth.
- They make work light. They provide a lift by being easy to work with.
Practices of Impact Players
They tap into unwritten rules – the standards of behaviour that one should follow in a particular job.
The impact generates investment. They harness uncertainty and ambiguity and find solutions.
Value building. They are self-managing and will complete a job without being told or reminded. They can take on higher-value opportunities and carry greater weight.
Creating safety that enables stretch
The best leaders cultivate an environment that is:
- Comfortable. They remove fear and provide security that encourages people to do their best thinking
- Creating an environment that demands their best efforts.
- Only creating one of these conditions will cause one of two conditions.
It will either stretch people without a foundation of safety. This can produce paralyzing anxiety.
It will foster a supportive environment without asking people to do something challenging. This could make people stagnant.
High-impact coaching habits
The five leadership habits will encourage the right behaviour in a team. The first two create an environment of safety, and the last three provide stretch.
- Define the W.I.N.(What’s Important Now). Help your team to see what’s most important at any given time.
- Redefine leadership. Encourage leaders to step up and step back.
- Ask your people to stay until the job is done before moving onto the next.
- Provide performance intel. “Am I hitting the target?”
- State what you appreciate. If you want your team to make work light, ensure you flag behaviour that you appreciate.
Innovation focused teams tend to be temporal – they form, collaborate, and disband. Team members need to be able to step up when needed and step back with equal ease.
To help reluctant leaders participate in this fast, fluid leadership model, provide a path of retreat. Show them that being a designated leader can be temporary, existing for the duration of a project or just a single meeting.
It can also take work to step back and support others. Model a healthy followership practice by collaborating with a peer organization or contributing to a project led by someone below you.