Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Do Your Handprints and Footprints Say About Your Leadership?

(Photo credit: Steve Mason)
Have you ever thought about the size and impact of your handprint and your footprint?

I am not talking about the physical measurement of your hand or foot. Nor am I talking about your "personal impacts and the sum total of your better ecological practices"* (although that was actually the inspiration for this blog). I am talking about the positive or negative influences you have on those around you--both those you do and do not know.

Similar to Newton's Third Law of Motion where every action has an equal and opposite reaction, our actions may be felt directly or indirectly, be intended or unintended, and have a positive or negative effect. Awareness of how our actions impact others is a skill every leader should develop and develop well. This requires that we not only take a critical look at ourselves, but also seek and respect feedback from others.

The only "fingerprints" that last are the ones you leave on your people. - General Mark Welsh

In a previous post "Leaving Your Fingerprints Behind," I spoke of the decision to lead  and the impact we have on those we lead. My inspiration for that post was General Mark Welsh's quote "The only 'fingerprints' that last are the ones you leave on your people." As a leader we have the opportunity to "touch" a lot of people. What do your "handprints" and "footprints" have to say about your leadership? Here are a few idioms/phrases or titles/lyrics that come to mind. (Some could be either positive or negative, however.)

The Positive Print
  • "Reach Out and Touch Someone"
  • Walk the talk.
  • "Show Me the Way" or "Walk This Way"
  • Lend a helping hand.
  • "He ain't heavy; he's my brother."
  • "Walk a mile their shoes."
  • Land on one’s feet.
  • "I'd like to build the world a home and furnish it with love..." 
  • Having one’s finger on the pulse.
  • Reaching across the aisle.
  • Tear down the walls.
  • Hand it to someone.
  • Keep one’s feet on the ground.
  • "If You're Happy and You Know It"
  • Put one’s best foot forward.
  • All hands on deck.
  • Knowing something like the back of one’s hand.
 The Negative Print
  • Pull the rug from under one’s feet.
  • Ruling with an iron fist.
  • "Under My Thumb"
  • Rule with a heavy hand.
  • "I'm gonna walk all over you."
  • Kick 'em when they're down.
  • The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
  • Put one’s foot in one’s mouth.
  • Dig in one’s heels."
  • Biting the hand that feeds you.
  • Force someone's hand.
  • Wash one’s hands of something.
What idioms or titles can you add?

The impacts of the prints you leave on those you lead can last a lifetime. Leading with authenticity and heart creates trust. Trust builds teams. Teams work together to change the world.
About the Author:
Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author. Inspiration for the blog came from Daniel Goleman's A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for Our World.

*"Handprint" concept of Gregory Norris of Harvard School of  Public Health.

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