Chuck Inman

Good Intent, Bad Impact: Lead With CLOUT to Produce Results

By Chuck InmanChuck Inman

Marcia was recently promoted to head the communications department in her company. She was excited about the new opportunity.  She had a big project due in 8 weeks and she decided to hand it over to Ron, one of her top performers.  She met with Ron and told him to clear his workload because this important project was coming his way in the next week or so.  As she got involved in the key project, she realized the impact of bringing it in on time.  She decided to keep the project and make sure it met the deadline and she didn’t turn it over to Ron.

She began to notice that Ron’s attitude started to turn negative and his performance started to go down.  Should she be concerned with her initial impressions of Ron’s performance?

Of course Marcia should be concerned.  We judge ourselves based on our intent and most people have good intentions.  However, others judge us based on the impact we have on them.  It is through our actions that we impact others.  Ron was told to get ready to take over a big important project, but when Marcia didn’t hand it over (her actions) Ron felt let down and betrayed by his new boss.

A good definition of clout is “the power to influence people or events.”  Leadership clout is the ability to influence people while in the act of leading a group of people toward the same goals.  There are leaders who have good intentions like Marcia but they don’t realize the negative impact they are having on their people by not following through on their intentions.  As a leader you have both the power to unleash the best performance in individuals or the ability to sabotage performance.  Remember that people don’t leave companies, people leave people.

Here are the key areas to help you lead with CLOUT:

Clarity: Make sure you have a clear idea of where you are headed and the ability to articulate that direction with your direct reports.  Also, make certain you understand the impact you are having on those around you as you move in that direction.  Communication does not mean clarity.  Never assume people have all the information they need or that they understand the overall goal.  One of the best ways to check if your people know the direction you are heading is to simply ask them and see what they say.  It sounds like a simple leadership tool and it is, but it just doesn’t get used all that often.

Leadership: It all starts with personal leadership and one of the key areas is understanding how you perform during times of difficulty and stress.  People may not listen to what you say but they will definitely watch your actions.  Take notice of how you handle difficult situations.  Do you get the results you are looking for during these times? Be honest with yourself.  If you aren’t getting those results, trying determining the results you want to achieve before the meeting and then be consistent in reaching those results.

Opportunity: The opportunity to stay in the game and control the situation during difficulty and stress.  By staying in the game you help others come to solutions that need to be addressed. Sometimes you have to step back, regroup and then make sure you re-emerge more powerfully than before.  By letting others come up with solutions, they take ownership and hold themselves accountable.

Understanding: Think of understanding as the ability to get to the other person’s side of the situation and understand their position.  This takes a shift in thinking from conveying information to others, to the ability to gather information from them. Non-threatening questions are good for gathering information like this. Use questions like, “Can you help me understand what you think the impact of this completed project will have on the department?”

Trust: This is the foundation of all strong teams and it provides the ability to have those difficult but much needed conversations on direction, motivation and accountability.  It creates an environment that allows the free flow of productive and dynamic communications.  One of the most important things you can do in building trust is to ensure that your intent and actions line up with the positive impact you want to have on your people.

Leadership is not easy. If it were, everyone would be a great leader.  As a leader, it is more about what your team does than it is about you.  The majority of your success is going to be based on your ability to interact effectively and positively with others.  So, if you are going to lead you might as well lead with clout and have the ability to influence people to work on the goals and objectives that are key to your business.

Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist. He is a keynote speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation, LLC. His leading edge keynote on “Leadership C.L.O.U.T. – Improving Communication Skills & Strengthening Teams,” is a dynamic program that’s addresses leader’s key challenges in today’s world.  He has traveled across multiple continents and presented his programs to people from over 40 different countries. To find out more information about Chuck and his programs please visit