High-impact people share three common characteristics. The result? They get a greater return from the time they invest at work--and, actually, from the time they invest doing pretty much anything. This type of impact goes beyond productivity. Productivity is incredibly important, but it's a piece of our daily puzzle that is only helpful to measure when you've figured out precisely what you're supposed to be doing. It doesn't answer the question of whether you are being productive about the right things. Nor does it answer those nagging internal questions about whether you're inspiring others by making your business a better place through leadership, coaching and support. But impact does.

Impact is consistently getting the outcome you want--making a believer out of someone questioning the path forward. Closing the sale after addressing your client's reservations. Coaching an emerging superstar employee to achieve all that she wants (and you need) her to contribute. Supporting a colleague in navigating his career and finding purpose. Guiding and providing vision upfront that results in an amazing first draft--not a half-hearted stab at guessing what you want.

High-impact leaders known their strengths, understand their purpose and have personal processes to check in with themselves from time to time and keep themselves on track. However, these characteristics aren't what gives high-impact leaders the ability to impact others.

My former boss and mentor, Peter Trick, shared these pearls with me when we first met in 2010. He offered decades of technical experience when he joined my firm’s management consulting business. But more than that, he brought a fresh perspective and intensity to sales and marketing, team-building, and professional growth that left a lasting impression on the clients and staff. Those three characteristics high-impact leaders share are passion, persistence and kindness.

  • Passion. Passionate leaders bring an energy and an enthusiasm to what they do and how they do it. You can hear their commitment to a cause in their voice and in their words, and you can feel it when you're in the same room with them. Their passion runs deep and enables them to study solutions from multiple angles. They have a command of all the possible alternatives, their pitfalls and the customer's options. Rick Gibson from HOTVentures shares his perspective on passion in this short clip.
  • Persistence. Persistent leaders know that nothing works all of the time or, if it does, they're playing it too safe. Persistence is setting goals--big goals--and pursuing them with an uncommon drive and focus. Persistence is critical because everyone inevitably gets knocked down, shut out, ignored or neglected at some point in their professional lives. Persistence is what enables high-impact leaders to get up again and again, recharge and be ready to keep going. Watch this video on how persistence is not just key it’s often your only ally.
  • Kindness. Kind leaders understand that kindness is both critical and universal. It's not just about being polite in front of clients or drafting e-mail messages with heart. Kindness permeates high-impact leaders' every relationship and every interaction. They leave every conversation with someone feeling heard and in a better place than before--even when delivering bad news. Kind leaders skip the cheap or easy opportunities to make someone feel bad for making a mistake and instead give words of faith and encouragement. If you need a little inspiration, check out Peter Economy’s collection of quotes on kindness. Awwww….

Cultivating these three high-impact leadership characteristics is easier than you might think. Each might require a different part of your brain--or your heart--but they are all there inside of us. Allowing these traits to emerge and become part of how we're recognized and categorized as a leader is akin to a sculpture chipping away and revealing the amazing complex and beautiful figure contained within the stone. High-impact leadership is less about developing these characteristics than it is about letting them emerge. We can all develop habits that become like second nature to the high-impact ways we lead others.