How To Become An Impact Leader

By JP Dallmann, Contributor

Becoming an Impact Leader, specially one focused on Sustainable & Impact Investing, is paramount for everyone in the financial services industry and beyond. This is because we truly need to make a significant system change that can help us transition capital faster and at a large scale. It is not only essential to make sure that we have a world for future generations to live in and enjoy, but it is also at the core of financial sustainability and investing fundamental principles, what some experts call “investing 101”. The latest reports suggest that we are still at just over 10% of investable assets allocated to Sustainable Investing. There is a long way to go and we are running out of time.

Have you ever in your adult life looked in the mirror and thought: I should do more to help create more impact? You are not alone! Millions of people have that same moment in their life every - even Cher over 50 years ago!

Cher looking into the dressing room mirror - L.A. 1968 (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives) getty

So what can you do to make the changes you need to become an Impact Leader? How can you achieve this faster? You need massive and consistent action. That is one way to approach it. But action alone will not make a difference, particularly if you have the wrong mindset and the wrong strategy. In my previous article of this two-part series, you may have looked at your foundations, gained some clarity on your vision concerning Sustainable Investing and the SDGs, and intentionally created your first crystal clear winning message. 

So what can you do next to build on the awareness you have created? How can you and your company be the leaders we need in this world that seems to have its day counted as we know it? 

It is time to take the active steps towards building a methodology to create profit and impact. This is where, if the foundation is not sufficiently strong, the approach will be tested and the cracks will appear.

After reading this article, and when you take the necessary actions to avoid these cracks appearing, you will not have to worry if you are creating a sustainable impact, but only if you are willing to implement the steps and do what it takes.

Guidance and Accountability to Create Breakthrough Moments

In a world full of conflicting information, once you understand where you are going wrong with your current strategy then you will instantly be able to correct and alter your actions and create the business and impact that you want and deserve. 

There is only so much that research and self-reflection can accomplish. Certainly, without that preparation, action without knowledge or a method can lead to frustration, anxiety and, as we have experienced in the markets on many occasions, shareholder value and financial destruction. However, even with knowledge, applying it to the right context will achieve a different performance and quality of results. If  your current knowledge already leads to significant unconscious limiting beliefs, then acquiring even more knowledge could only cause analysis paralysis and stagnation. 

Sigmund Freud analyzing a figure of himself - Drawing by Charles B. Slackman. Bettmann Archive

The truth is, what has held you back up until now are beliefs around your  possibility that are not even yours. You have borrowed them from someone else. The question is, are you ready to let go of them now and take your business and life to a completely different level?  

The truth is, no amount of information will ever allow you to see what is possible for you, your company, your fund, your investments unless your belief system supports it fully. You do not get  what you want. You get what you believe. You believe what is true because of who you spend time with and the education and experiences that you have. The more time you spend with people that have the results you want, the more you will believe it is possible for you too. 

If you were not already aware, your limitations are borrowed from your parents, your friends, your schooling and as a by-product from negative experiences. These include your colleagues, your company culture, even previous deals and transactions that went wrong. For instance, some investors are avoiding very valid sustainable and impactful opportunities because they are looking at them with past limiting (unconscious) beliefs, even if such opportunities fulfill investment committees’ approval criteria.

You must flood yourself daily with possibility and inspiration. Who you spend your time with has a ripple effect and directly influences your thinking on a daily basis.  All a belief is, is a construct that filters the experience of your reality on a daily basis and dictates your actions.

Water droplet ripple effect (Photo by Chris Rutter/Digital Camera Magazine) Future via Getty Images

Most of the best sustainable and impact investors would not achieve what they are achieving today if they had not spent time with one of many mentors and advisors, who helped them uncover exactly how they had done it and showed them the exact methods they used to grow their businesses and profiles to create substantial profit and impact at scale.  

For this reason, you must surround yourself with the right people, to create breakthroughs and accountability to fast track your “aha” moments with a targeted approach.

We will not speak about elevating your level of consciousness in this article, but stay connected to read a future article that will cover such an important factor to really elevate our work and humanity overall.

Build a Position of Authority with Integrity

The importance of aligning personal and professional values, priorities and actions is the basis for aligning to client needs and impact investment themes. If your personal and company blueprint is chaotic, any external action will reflect this and have some degree of chaos. Shining a light on any problems will expose the “mess”, but only then can we begin to move towards a solution. Our climate crisis is the ultimate symptom of the chaos being created by humanity’s current misalignment. 

MEXICO: initiative is led by climate activist Greta Thunberg ahead of the Climate Action Summit (by Hector Vivas) Getty Images

This is a real reason why we need more Impact Leaders. We need people that can help us create the solutions, specially in the financial services industry, so we can transition the capital faster to fund the companies and initiatives that will help us create a system change. Capital reallocation is key.

Now, if you are the one seeking funding: Are you struggling when trying to find investors? Let alone the right investors? This is one of the most common challenges across the spectrum of capital and companies globally. From Investment Managers to Entrepreneurs.

Experts are finding that the problem is a combination of seeking into many places and in the wrong places, combined with a lack of clarity on your proposition and your approach to looking for them rather than attracting investors.

Why do some Sustainable (and ESG focused) Investment funds - such as MIROVA, an affiliate of Natixis IM - doubled their Assets Under Management (AUM) in 2020? while others could not attract extra funds and even experienced outflows despite relatively decent performances?

The truth is that those that are currently succeeding have built a position of authority, with a clarity of vision and crystal clear message aligned to the needs of investors, from their strategy to Responsible Investment Frameworks that go above and beyond regulations and Ecolabels - some have even classified themselves 100% Article 9 (see my SFDR article), and also cover theories of change, net positive impact products, real impact pipeline, governance and everything in between.

Such companies and those leading them have become an authority in the market, using the current market needs not just to differentiate themselves for the sake of profits but to create impact, and people - investors, clients, employees - recognize this.

As a company, manager, entrepreneur and professional, you owe it to yourself, your loved ones and your community to become an Impact Leader, an authority in the industry. But remember that with this role comes responsibility and a need for integrity in your thoughts and actions.

Attract the Best Opportunities

Once you become an Impact Leader, this makes a world of difference. Building this position and authority, with the right mindset and strategy, the best opportunities and right start being attracted to you, your proposition, your company, your fund. It is what I call becoming an “Impact Diamond” - a magnet of the right opportunities. We are all diamonds in the making: some more charcoal than others that are already a fine cut, but even the most beautiful diamond needs polishing for that final brilliance.

There are so many relevant points to this analogy at so many levels: value, appreciation, attraction, scarcity, beauty, relativity, time …

Largest brilliant-cut D-color flawless diamond (Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP) AFP via Getty Images

Sometimes, the greatest factor is time, specifically the compounding power of time. A diamond at its core is simply carbon, the most basic building block of life. However, with intense heat and pressure, over time that carbon forms a precious stone. Even then, it is not always obvious, so rough diamonds must still undergo a refinement process before we see the desirable, recognizable, shiny, beautiful outcome. When we invest for impact, we are building diamonds from carbon. But it takes time, pressure, and accountability to reveal the benefits we want immediately. 

When all the right building blocks are securely in place, opportunities that are aligned to who you are will start to show up. Before you had organized the information into what you needed and what you didn’t need, you may have been managing distractions rather than building a proposition and strategy towards true impact. Before there was clarity of vision, you may have been chasing too many of the wrong opportunities. Before you built your position of authority, you may not have been able to recognize where you could contribute your expertise, and most importantly others could not see either.

When the right building blocks in your new blueprint come together, everything seems to “click”, and you will start meeting the right people and discussing the right opportunities that move things forward faster and at scale. This intentional forward-direction is really the only way you can actually deliver impact, and it is only possible with the right people around you. 

The final challenge we all face is that diamonds take a long time to form. It takes 1Bn to 3.5Bn* years for a diamond to be created. But we do not have that much time in our worldly world, to make the difference we want in this world to save humanity.

The other key factor is that diamonds are built under immense amounts of pressure. Interesting enough, this is another concept that most humans do not like or appreciate. So what can you do to help you ease the pressure and speed up the process? Ultimately, it is only with the right support and accountability that you can deliver your vision and sustainability we need so urgently. But it takes an Impact Leader to find the right people and  the community so that we can create the change we need to create and fund the solutions for Profit & Impact.

If this two-part series of articles inspired you to take action and you want to create some additionality to measure your progress, here are some ideas of specific actions you can take this coming week:

  • Find and join at least one new community, at every level: family, neighborhood, school, and church
  • Join professional groups with a clear purpose that is aligned to yours, so you can have real impact
  • Collaborate on projects at work that can lead to sustainable developments and systems change
  • Join a mastermind of business executives or peers. Engage intentionally and completely at a regular schedule

We have overcome the greatest of challenges over our history, and it is up to each one of us to play a role once again! United!

WW2 British poster on a public wall to raise moral c. 1939-1945. (Topical Press Agency) Getty Images

Finally, if you find this article helpful, please share it to create further understanding and immediate change of our behaviors. We only need to START and take ONE ACTION at a time and create compounding marginal gains. We can only control our most immediate actions!

Important: this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute a request, offer, recommendation or solicitation of any kind to buy, subscribe, sell or redeem any investment instruments or to perform other such transactions of any kind.


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.