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Intent vs. Impact

After many conversations with leaders, I realized that the old saying “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” is coming to my mind more than one would think.

You wanted to be thorough and helpful but was called a micromanager;

You believed that you gave honest feedback but was labelled “lacking empathy”;

You tried to stay focused and save time but got the reputation of being dismissive and closed-minded.

In other words, you had very well-founded INTENTIONS, but they left far from desirable IMPACT on others.

It can happen to anyone, and the reason is that we fail (me included) to recognize that our INTENT doesn’t matter if the IMPACT on people around us is damaging.

There are a few steps that every leader can take to improve. From personal experience, I can say it will take time, energy, a few bumps on the road, but it is worth the effort.

When your great intentions had an opposite impact on people:

🔹 First thing first, take responsibility and apologize. A simple and sincere “I am sorry” is all that is needed. Don’t fall into the trap of giving explanations. Remember, your INTENT doesn’t matter.

🔹 The next step, ask the person, “What can I do differently next time?” and be ready to listen and, most importantly, implement some changes.

🔹 Let go of the concept “one-size-fits-all” approach and embrace the differences within your team. For one employee, frank feedback will be the best way to proceed; for someone else – direct way to lose them. At the end of the day, this is what makes your job as a leader so exciting and rewarding – finding the right key to each team member and seeing them grow.

It’s not an easy switch to make in the mindset. You will need to remind yourself constantly: my INTENT doesn’t matter if the IMPACT was harmful. But if you stick with this routine, you will soon see the fantastic results your employees will be able to achieve with your help.


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