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The Impact of a Leader

Susan Barrett Conference

Several weeks ago, a colleague of ours, Susan Barrett, passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer.

She will be deeply missed by our entire team and the clients she so effectively served.

After her passing, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of colleagues and clients, both past and present, who reached out to us to express their sorrow and share the impact that Susan had on them. 

She was a force that many team members looked to for inspiration, motivation and for her unique gritty resolve.  We also looked to her for her high standards of professionalism.  She always wanted us and pushed us to be our best in every client meeting and engagement.

We appreciated how she never lost her sense of humor, even when a calamity hit.  We valued the unique way she was able to touch everyone she came in contact with.  We could count on her razor sharp wit and insights that pushed our thinking forward.  And we relished in her personal generosity as she mentored and coached younger team members.

Susan did all these things not because anyone asked her to, but because she knew this was the leadership value she brought to our team.  And now in her absence, a vacuum of leadership has been created. 

There is a lesson here for all of us as leaders.  In my experience, I find many leaders struggle to find a way to exert their personal influence impact in their organizations.  Some leaders are hesitant.  Others wait around for permission.  Some are not confident enough.

Susan taught us not to wait.  You need to understand what your leadership value is and the impact you must create.  This impact can be at an individual or team level.  It can be at a departmental or company-wide level.  It doesn’t matter what level it is, as long as you create a positive impact like Susan did.    

What impact are you having as a leader?

Leave your comments below.


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About the Author

Vince Molinaro is a speaker, consultant, executive at Lee Hecht Harrison, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Leadership Contract now in its third edition.


  1. Ren
    Posted on April 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Nice article Vince and bang on the money! These were Susan’s unique leadership contributions

  2. Mehrdad
    Posted on April 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

    This is a great reminder that leadership manifests in many forms–we are all in a position to add unique value and have a meaningful impact in our own way.

  3. Vince Molinaro
    Posted on April 4, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Thanks Ren. Let’s remember impact, but also identify our own.

  4. Vince Molinaro
    Posted on April 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I agree Mehrdad. It’s not about one leader. It’s about all of us adding our value as leaders.

  5. Tiina
    Posted on April 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you for this blog Vince. The fact that you wrote it is in itself an act of leadership. Most leaders would tend to stay away from directly addressing such a tough topic as the passing away of a valued team member. The leaders of our business showed their compassion, humanity and deep respect for the people they lead by facing this situation head-on and allowing the team to grieve in the way it needed to. Many less courageous leaders would have muttered some words of condolence and shoved it under the rug and moved quickly onto the next urgent business issue. It’s a pleasure to work in a company of people who are not afraid of showing empathy and understand people’s emotional needs.

  6. Laura
    Posted on April 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you for this blog Vince Losing Susan was a painful reminder of how short life can be and how important it is that we recognize how we add value and then deliberately share it with others to make the world around us a better place. Susan’s courage, strength in the face of adversity and self-belief in the value she brought to all of us is an inspiration and a model I strive to follow.

  7. Patricia
    Posted on April 6, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Thanks Vince, I am so grateful that I had the priviledge to work with and get to know Susan. I was always impressed by Susan’s spirit and generosity. What a beautiful legacy she leaves of leadership and friendship.

    • Vince Molinaro
      Posted on April 8, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Thanks for Patricia for your reflections. Susan was extremely generous.

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