The right feedback at the right time can change the arc of a life. As teachers can attest, it is common to learn many years later that a spontaneous remark, criticism or encouragement was the catalyst for significant change in a student’s life.
We never know when our suggestions or advice will take hold and move people to act boldly in the future. As leaders, we have the power to alter the trajectory of others with just a few words. It is a superpower that surprises us because it is impossible to know when a remark will ring a bell and change everything. Leaders are wise to remember their words carry weight, especially to the impressionable, the inexperienced and the uncertain.
Denzel Washington reminds us of exactly that: “You never know who you touch. You never know how or when you’ll have an impact or how important your example can be to someone else.” Because you never know, the best idea is to presume everything you say has the power to sway. That is the power of leadership.