Making a Difference for Others Part 1: Impact

I want to make an impact on the people around me.

That’s something that you might have stated as a goal for your work as a school administrator. So, how many people can you impact? This isn’t just a parsing of words, but it’s a critical understanding for you when you’re leading a large group of people.

As you see in the image above, to make a difference for others you need a combination of approaches. Although we often say we want to impact others, by definition impact requires close contact. In our role as school leaders, it means not only proximity but time. Given the demands of school administration, you have a precious and finite amount of time, and you may have reasons to spread your time around somewhat evenly around the members of your faculty, staff, students, and community. If that’s what you choose to do with your time, it’s excellent for other forms of difference making, but not specifically for impact.

How many hours does it take to impact someone else? It depends upon how long-lasting an impact you’re hoping to make, the willingness of the other person to grow, and your skills. Obviously, the deeper the impact, the more time is required. But as an assistant principal, principal, superintendent, or director how many hours do you have to spend on impact and how many people can you reach?

To truly make a difference and lead someone to be more effective, to understand more deeply, or to care more genuinely about their work your time commitment has to be regular, consistent, and enough. The numerical values for each of those vary but no matter what, if you’re going to impact someone it’s going to take a commitment of energy and time over a weeks and months if you want the impact to last.

So, how many people can you impact in the course of a school year? I’ve asked administrators in my classes that questions for over a decade and the consensus is fewer than five. The actual number varies on the factors mentioned earlier, and the choice of whom you want to impact; some choices may require more time than others. Impact requires coaching, mentoring, opening up to your mentee and them doing the same with you. It allows times for mistakes, reflection, review, and goal-setting. It takes a commitment on both’s parts.

You have WAY more than five people to make a difference for this year, so what about them?

You impact some; you influence others; you work to provide inspiration for everyone.

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