“We judge ourselves by our intention and others by their impact.” The moment I heard those words I knew they were true. The simple implication is this: we are judged by how we land on other people, not how we meant to come across. Our reputation has everything to do with how we leave people feeling and what we leave people thinking, not what we actually said and did, let alone what we meant to say and do.

Successful leaders learn this early on and plan accordingly.

Here are two habits you can adopt to become a more successful leader:

1.       Cultivate your “Other Awareness”

Stop and think about the other people in the room. Imagine the world through their eyes.

  •  What are their top concerns every day?
  • What are their fears?
  • What do they value and appreciate?
  • How do they like to be treated?

2.       Assess your “Impact Zone”

Take the time to follow up and ask creative questions. The sort of questions that will prompt people to give you candid information. Avoid asking, “How did I do?” or “Can I ask you for some feedback?”

The goal is to be more specific and ask for more nuanced reflections:

“What part of my talk is sticking with you still?” and “Did I have a habit of speech or gesture that got in the way of your listening?” will likely offer a speaker better information than, “How did I do?”

Here are some questions that can get you started on your own Creative Question list:

  • If you could erase one of my habits, what would it be?
  • What have I said or done in the last few [days/weeks/months] that helped you most?
  • What have I said or done in the last few [days/weeks/months] that got in your way?
  • This week, what opportunity did I miss to connect with someone? What do you think it cost me?
  • If I were to choose one thing to work on improving when I am with people, what would it be?
  • Who would you cast to play me in the movie about our lives?

You get the picture! Have some fun with this. Ask creative questions with curiosity and see what you learn. In the process of asking these questions, and then listening to how people respond, you will learn about both yourself and others.

Our success and our satisfaction grow when we close the gap between our intentions and our impact.

Why? Because when our intentions and our impact are aligned, we are, quite simply, getting the response we intend. It is a lot easier to leave a room when you are aware of the actual impact you had while you were there.