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What it means to lead with impact

Effective and purposeful leadership means being inclusive, inspiring, and a little bit iconoclastic


We live in a time of deep distrust in institutions: Globally, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 47% of those surveyed said they trust the media to “do what is right;” 48% trust government, and slightly more than half trust nongovernmental organizations and businesses. Three-quarters of respondents, however, said they trust their employers to do the right thing. Now seems like a great time for bosses to lead holistically and purposefully–thinking about their communities, customers, and employees alongside growth in sales and profits. Our editors asked a few members of the Fast Company Impact Council, a leadership group made up of founders, innovative executives, and creative businesspeople, to tell us a bit more about what it means to lead with impact.

Jessica Icilsoy, founder and CEO, California Baby
“To me, leading with impact requires one to fight against the popular tide with conviction and not be afraid to set higher and higher standards to bring about real change.”

Susan McPherson, founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies
“Business leaders have the power to affect change on the biggest challenges our society faces today, from climate change to xenophobia to gun violence. True leaders stand up and speak out when their values come under threat and the rights of their employees, workers and customers are at stake. Today, leading with impact and integrity means not being silent on the issues that matter, even—and especially—when it’s not easy.”

Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and CEO, Birchbox
“[It’s] shaping the next generation of leadership. These are the leaders my kids will aspire to and work for . . . my intent is to show them a brand of leadership that continues to dream big about the future we can invent together, while coupling that vision and confidence with deep humility.”

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