How Are People Left When You Leave Their Presence?

As leaders, we have an impact on others—whether we realize it or not. This is one of the five marks of authentic leadership.

Newton’s Cradle with One Ball Being Dropped - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #17094436

Photo courtesy of ©[photographer]

But that impact is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways. It is either positive or negative. It is rarely neutral.

This means we don’t just mindlessly waltz into a meeting and waltz out. Everything we say has an impact.

When we leave, people are left either …

  • Energized or depleted
  • Encouraged or discouraged
  • Inspired to tackle the next challenge or wanting to quit

Even the things we don’t say—our attitude, our facial expressions, and our body language—have an impact.

How do you leave people?

The good news is that YOU get to decide what that impact will be. But first you have to become aware of your power. It is greater than you can possibly imagine.

Recognize it. Honor it. Use it for good.

Question: What effect are you having on those around you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Todd Stocker

    Great question for me especially since part of my personal mission statement is “… adding value  to those around me.”  John Maxwell always said that one of his goals after he meets people is to leave them feeling better about themselves than before he met them.  It’s actually not that hard to do and the side benefit is that I feel good about helping others feel good!

  • Jgiaconia

    This was very helpful! I just started using Evernote app on my phone voice to text to capture what i read and want to retain. I also bought Dragon but havent use it yet. Thank you.

  • Julie Swihart

    Sometimes when we leave a room, people aren’t necessarily either energized or depleted, but left with virtually no impact at all. My dad worked as a bagger at a grocery store when he was a teenager, and he said there were three types of customers: those who made him feel important/encouraged, those who left him feeling angry/frustrated, and those who left no impact on him at all because they didn’t smile, didn’t complain, didn’t do anything. He said most people fell into the third category, and you forget about those people. He said the ones you remember are from the first two categories, and he wanted to be in the first.

    Just wanted to point out that our impact on people can be positive or negative as you say, but also completely forgetful because we didn’t do much of anything.

  • Jason Pulley

    I don’t know! I think this something I personally need to realize and work on. My day is hectic and have limited resources. I make myself take time for my direct reports but it is never enough or as effective as it should be due to daily demands. I do know taking a step backwards to set the right environment will Increase our effectiveness. It is just easier said than done sometimes. Thanks for the thoughts and I will take it with me Monday morning.

  • Holly G

    I agree completely that we need to be aware of how we leave people.  Your post however, has also made me evaluate how I enter a group.  My husband and I teach an adult Sunday School class.  I direct a Mom’s group as well as participate on several committees.  All of these are volunteer, ministry positions.  
    I usually arrive at Sunday School or the meeting and are on task.  I have things to do and am effective at getting them done.  However, am I letting those in my class know that I’m glad to see them?  Am I letting my leadership team of the Mom’s group know that I value them and the work they have done preparing?  I hope that I do by the end of our meeting, but your post has made me thing about recognizing them first, so that I set them up for a productive and meaningful meeting.  I would set a better tone by letting them know they are of value first.  
    So the question to myself is “What do I need to do, so that my focus  is on people first, rather than tasks?”
    This is something I also need to apply to my children.  Do I make them feel important and loved, or am I just in ‘task’ mode to get things accomplished?

    • Jim Martin

      Holly, you raise some great questions regarding the groups that you are involved with.  Your questions were helpful to me as I thought about these same issues.  Thanks.

  • Bill Horn

    This subject is so important, yet it is often overlooked. 

    I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned already, but Henry Cloud’s book, “Integrity” has some great material on this subject as well. He calls it our “wake,” and says that we can understand our own character better by looking at our wake. I highly recommend “Integrity” for anyone looking to grow and develop his or her character. Few books have challenged me more.

    Michael, thank you for continuing to give us valuable content. I believe we are all better off as a result.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks for the book recommendation.  I have been blessed a number of Henry Cloud’s books.  Thanks for mentioning this one.

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  • Andrew Chalmers

    My biggest struggle is being so overwhelmed with the tasks at hand that when people I am leading come to me with a question I rarely stop to acknowledge their need and simply just give them a quick answer. I really appreciate this reminder and want to be more intentional in leaving people energized, encouraged and inspired!

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  • Christopher Battles

    Just the title/first few lines got my attention.
    Thank thee Michael.
    It makes me think if I am presenting the way I really want to be.
    This is almost a Seth Godin length blog. Ha Nice to change page a bit.

    K, bye

  • David Sollars

    Start at the end and work towards the goals you already envision as being done. A leader’s vision and presence prep them for the whole body communication that occurs with the team. As they said in Cool Hand Luke, “You gots to get your head right.” and “What we have here is a failure to communicate!” These iconic cinema moments showcase the need for leaders to show up for every encounter with the team.

  • joewickman

    Hello Michael,

    I think this type of truth is precisely why it’s so difficult to determine aptitude and life success.

    When I attended my daughter’s lacrosse yesterday, I observed the players. Some were highly skilled, others just beginning. Some will find success on the field due to their skill, while other will excel in other areas of their life will build into the team by honing more than their mastery of physical skills.

    The components that make you an effective teammate are sometimes intangible. At least, that’s my theory, and that’s what I’m banking on in my own leadership journey.

    Thanks for the post.

    – Joe

  • Joshua Jarvis

    This another good reminder and a great challenge for anyone calling themselves a “leader.”

  • Gtredgold

    This is very important, but its also very difficult.
    We need to remember that we are leaders 24 hrs a day 7 days a week.
    Every encounter needs to be a positive encounter and leave our people feeling better, especially about themselves

  • Nikki Buckelew

    I often get compliments that are very humbling as I part ways with people. On one hand it makes me feel great and I feel so blessed to have made them felt good. It is hard sometimes to know how to respond. So I usually just respond by saying “thank you.” And that I appreciate the compliment and am glad I could positively impact them.