Small actions, big impact: the butterfly effect of leadership

You’re probably familiar with the butterfly effect: the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a tornado weeks later on the other side of the world.

A lot of what we practice with the Yomento personal leadership trainer consists of really small, simple actions. Ask for a team member’s input. Show gratitude for something. Let everyone else speak before you do. Maybe just have your weekly team meeting in a different room than usual.

And sometimes, you might wonder, what’s the point? Will taking a walk to reflect on your work, or sending out an email with a quick positive comment to a colleague, really make you a great leader?

Well, if that’s all you do, then no, maybe not.

We like to compare it to brushing your teeth: just doing it once isn’t going to give you sparkling, pearly whites.

But if you take that one small action – just 3 minutes of your time – every single day, you will definitely notice a difference. Small actions have exponential impact on your growth as a leader over time, but you have to be consistent.

But there’s another way of thinking about this as well: your effect on others. Think about it like this…

Brushing your teeth once won’t immediately turn your teeth ten shades whiter, or prevent you from getting cavities. But it will instantly make your breath smell better and get rid of stray pieces of your lunch that are still hanging around! Which might make a huge difference in the outcome of a business meeting or on a date an hour later.

It might sound silly, but the same analogy can be used with leadership. Even small actions will  have a noticeable effect, frequently right away.

And just like the butterfly effect, the difference might be miniscule…but it will ripple and amplify.

You giving positive feedback to a team member on Monday could mean that she comes in with just a bit more energy on Tuesday, goes into a meeting with a potential client with just a little more gumption, and that’s the drop which makes the glass run over and wins over a big new deal for the company.

Or it could just mean that she’s in a better mood on the way home and compliments a stranger on the bus on his shoes. Which puts him in a better mood, which boosts his performance at work the next day…

You get the idea. Leadership doesn’t have to consist of hours of off-site training at a camp or seminar.

Small actions, big impact. Take 3 minutes on-the-job today to make a difference.

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