He writes a weekly article for Emerging Creative Leaders and a fortnightly article for Purpose-Driven CEOs and Founders, and this ongoing task has given him insight into what it means to be a great leader with a strong focus on impact.
I work with leaders every single day.
Some are good leaders, others are good people in complex positions, others are terrible – a few shouldn’t have held their position at all, leading me to question who put them there in the first place.
Throughout my career, I’ve learned a lot about leadership.
Boards of Directors. Executive teams. C-suites. Founders. Coaches of sporting teams. Federal Government Ministers. Teachers. SAS Commanders. Technology Entrepreneurs. Principals and teams of education leaders. Impact leaders. Social-Conscious leaders. Women. Men. Children.
I’ve had the privilege to work with leadership spanning the gamut of positions in the corporate, education and political world.
When I think about ‘good leaders’, I see the ability to connect with people at an authentic, human level – a leader who transcends titles and hierarchy to operate with unparalleled authenticity, compassion and kindness.
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I see a leader who can have a difficult conversation with empathy.
People who can have a business conversation with joy, laughter, interesting banter and structured, inspired thinking mixed in for good measure.
I see good listeners and good storytellers.
It’s the ability to tell stories well that has separated most leaders I’ve worked with. From those we remember a with a sense of disappointment to those that have connected with us in a way that rose above our expectations.
In 2005 I read Marcus Aurelius’ book, Meditations. A collection of Roman Emperor’s thoughts, insights and ideas about leadership, manhood and fatherhood written through the lens of Stoic philosophy.
Inspired by this simple journal, I decided to begin my own leadership journal.
It took me over a decade of false starts to find my rhythm and platform – a decade of imposter syndrome and waiting for a planet-alignment that was never going to happen.
I waited for perfectionism to knock on the door, but it never arrived.
In 2014 I sat down to write an article titled ‘The Meaningful Organisation’ about organisations led by those driven by an equal balance of values and commercial acumen.
I dwelled, drafted and ached over this article for over a week, crafting every word and sentence before I could click ‘Send’.
The following week I wrote another, followed by another the following week – this habit continues five years later.
An article a week for five consecutive years.
Over 260 articles written on leadership, creativity and entrepreneurship that have been my greatest lessons in positive impact – my own Meditations if you will, and the highlight of my career.
Each week, motivated by the responses to the previous week’s content, I sit and write.
Each piece takes between 30 – 45 minutes to complete with very little sweat and rarely a sense of being overwhelmed – it’s become a practice in documenting my journey and learning about people who share similar values.
The act of journaling and sharing my thoughts has taught me more in my 25+ year career than most leaders I’ve worked with.
Does this simple curiosity speak to you as it does to me?
This simple act is practice.
A training that gets better at each attempt yet will never be perfect – I’ve learned not to sweat errors in spelling and grammatical clumsiness that creeps in from time to time. This practice of sitting with my thoughts, allowing them to challenge and inspire me, has taught me more about positive impact than any event, speech or class I have attended.
I’ve focused on the simple, positive human impact that matters most to me.
The impact of helping one leader communicate her values to the 1,500 people she leads.
The impact of a father replying to one email, telling me about his growing connection with his son through a tumultuous time in his career.
The impact of a helping 120 technologists understand themselves and their potential through narrative, storytelling and insightful enquiry.
The impact of people seeking to work with values-aligned organisations and shouting hooray! in reply.
As the owner of an accredited B Corporation, I’ve sat in many presentations to listen to people speak about impact.
I’ve spent time alongside many leaders who have celebrated their impact yet failed in their ability to tell a meaningful, compelling story about it.
I’ve met leaders who struggle to share that knowledge and build for themselves a leadership platform that celebrates the meaningful work they do.
For me, it was simple – one authentic piece of writing at a time.
Jim Antonopoulos is the Managing Director of Brand Strategy and Innovation Consultancy, Tank.