5 Ways to Become an Impact Player in Your Organization

There is no shortage of books that talk about leaders.

Yet, barely any cover contributors. 

But there is one that does.

“Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact” by Liz Wiseman.

This blog is inspired by Wiseman’s insights on what makes an Impact Player and how YOU can become one.

To write the book, Wiseman’s research team spoke with 170 executives working in 10 countries. They also surveyed 350 managers from various industries and conducted detailed interviews with 25 high-impact contributors.

Their research focused on 2 groups of smart, talented players:

  • Impact Players – who play at their full potential and deliver exceptional value and impact
  • Typical Contributors – who play below their full potential and deliver good work (but not superb)

Impact Players are individuals within an organization who deliver outstanding results.

  • These are people who make a positive impact.
  • These are people you go to for high-stake projects or to get things done right.
  • These are people playing a pivotal role in organizational success. 

Another category includes those who are intelligent and capable but perform below their potential. 

They are typical contributors who wish to contribute but don’t know how.

So, what do impactful players see and do differently from typical contributors?

Let’s find out:

4 Differentiators of Impact Players

Impact Players stand out from typical contributors in four ways:

  1.  Typical employees see uncertainties as threats.Impact Players see them as opportunities. This expands their perspectives and range of possibilities. 
  •  Organizations and teams don’t always state the norms and standards.Yet, Impact Players grasp the unwritten rules. This helps them figure out what must be done and how to do it the right way. 
  • Impact Players are given more responsibilities and resources. This is because they contribute more than 3x the value of a typical contributor and about 10x that of an under-contributor. 
  •  Impact Players have a better potential to shine, learn, and grow and create an even greater impact in a positive cycle. 

The difference between impact players and typical contributors isn’t talent, competence or skills. They’re equally capable. Yet, impact players consistently find ways to add value while others are simply going through the motions.


5 Practices of Impact Players

Here are the 5 practices Impact Players adopt to stand apart from typical contributors:


1.    They Do the Job that Needs to Be Done

Workplaces are no strangers to messy situations. So, you will face complex, cross-functional issues outside your defined job boundaries. 

Typical contributors only do their job and nothing else. 

Impact Players are ready to do the job that’s needed. They see themselves as problem-solvers. And so, messy problems become a chance to make themselves useful. 

If it means stepping beyond their assigned roles, they do whatever is needed the most. 

In doing so, Impact Players exhibit several high-impact habits, like:

  • They learn the game
  • They identify where they’re needed
  • They focus on solving big problems and serving their team or organization, not personal passions


Ø How Can You Adopt this Practice?

  • Find the double W.I.N. – Identify What’s Important Now by observing what leaders talk about, spend time on, and celebrate.
  • Contribute where it matters the most – ensure it’s in your boss’s top 3 priorities.
  • Link your work to your stakeholders’ agenda – be the ‘how’ to their ‘what.’

2.   They Step Up, then Step Back

It’s common to find situations with unclear roles within organizations.

For example, it might not be clear who’s in charge of particular tasks. In such scenarios, contributors stand on the sidelines and wait for direction. Impact Players step up to lead, then step back to follow. 

They do this by:

  • Inviting themselves to lead instead of waiting for an invitation.
  • Taking charge without bulldozing their way.
  • Securing others’ approval by building relationships, showing humility, and earning trust.

Once things are set in motion, they step back. 

Ø How Can You Adopt this Practice?

  • Listen out for ambient problems
  • Invite yourself to a meeting (make sure you have one credible supporter in the room)
  • Start acting like a leader 
  • Learn to pass the baton to show you’re also a good follower

3.   They Finish Stronger

Predicting the pathways for challenges is impossible, but you can always handle them responsibly. Impact Players work with the mindset to finish stronger and with reliability.

No matter how complicated the job may seem, they deliver results with an upside surprise. And no, Impact Players don’t exhaust themselves in doing so.

Instead, they know when to improvise, pivot, or get support and reinforcements. 

Ø How Can You Adopt this Practice?

  • Define the finish line, performance standard, and job exclusions
  • Negotiate the essentials you’ll need to succeed
  • For example, information, time, guidance, and resources.
  • Reframe obstacles as challenges
  • Add a surprise to the original request


4.    They Ask and Adjust

We live in a fast-paced world. Organizations run on the same model. That means sticking to what you know won’t take you anywhere.

Instead, moving targets and fast-changing conditions make existing practices obsolete. And that’s why Impact Players ask for guidance and adjust their approach accordingly. They understand that the ultimate strength is the ability to adapt.

Ø How Can You Adopt this Practice?

  • Ask for guidance, not feedback.
  • Circle back to let people know what you did with their guidance and what you plan to do next.
  • If any feedback upsets you, relax before responding.

5.   They Make Work Light

You’re bound to get overwhelmed and stressed when unrelenting demands pile up. Even more so if these demands increase faster than your capacity. 

You have two pathways to take:

  • Become a typical contributor who adds to others’ burdens.
  • Or become an Impact Player by making work easier and light for everyone.

The first path ends in complaints and dramas while wasting everyone’s time. But by acting as an Impact Player, you can help others do their work and bring positive energy, fun, and laughter.

Impact Player acts like a ray of sunshine, allowing the entire team to carry heavier loads without feeling the strain. 

Ø How Can You Adopt this Practice?

  • Get to the point and communicate clearly.
  • Speak when you have relevant, evidence-based, unique, and succinct insights during meetings.
  • Find what you’re good at and do better than others.
  • Create a user guide to help others leverage your geniuses.

Following these five practices is useful to become an Impact Player yourself.

And you can also build a team of Impact Players where everyone contributes to their fullest potential.

Read more blogs by Videomonks to learn more tips and tricks, business strategies, and life lessons.