How to Own Your Wake

Leaders struggle to see themselves through the eyes of others.

You enhance your impact on others AFTER you acknowledge your impact ON others.

Own your wake:

Like a boat, you leave a wake everywhere you go. Sometimes your wake harms. Sometimes it energizes.

I can’t tell you how many times I said, “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” to my wife. Let me translate that. “You shouldn’t be hurt because I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

My favorite expression was, “I have no animosity in my heart.”

Almost anything is better than saying, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Of course you don’t intentionally harm others.

The difference between intent and impact is hard to see and even harder to own.

If you deliberately bring pain on others – without noble ends – get out of leadership.

Intention is important.

Impact is reality.

Leaders deal with reality.

It takes courage to own your wake.

Weak leaders see life only through their own eyes. Influential leaders take the perspective of others.

When you own your wake you say things like:

  1. I can see you’re upset. (You strengthen others when you see and acknowledge them.)
  2. I’ve caused unnecessary turbulence on our team.
  3. I apologize.
  4. How can we move forward more effectively next time?
  5. I think I got in the way.

Self-centered leaders worry about themselves and say, “What’s wrong with them?”

Successful leaders acknowledge others and say, “How can I take responsibility for my wake?”

Create a positive wake:

You’re not a leader if you show up, put your head down, and do your work in isolation. 

Connection strengthens influence.

Five sentences that strengthen connection today:

  1. I’m thankful for … .
  2. What’s working for you?
  3. What are you doing that makes you proud?
  4. How can I help you win today?
  5. I’m counting on you to … .

How might leaders own their wake?

How might leaders create a positive wake?