Be a Difference Maker

By Michele Porterfield

There is this squishy topic called leadership impact. Everyone knows they are supposed to show it, but many are less clear about exactly how. Does it mean charismatic? Does it mean one is confident or memorable? Probably a bit of yes to all – but with of course many other equally appropriate definitions.

This topic is a popular one with many clients these days. Who has it? Who doesn’t? Can we develop it in others? How important is it relative to technical competence and ability to deliver results?

While I think all of the varying definitions are right, I also like to think of impact as “difference making” – as doing something or saying something that in fact creates positive change in the situation or another person. It’s about being the one who contributed in a way such that others say things like “she was so valuable at that meeting” or “wow, she is such a great role model” or “she pushed me hard to do things that I did not think I could do myself”.

I am also clear that making an impact, or being a difference maker, is something that most people are capable of – not just the extroverts, not just the polished presenters, not just those who are in positions of formal authority.

I have seen lots of people in client situations have a great impact in the moment, but in their own more mild mannered way. They might not be the most vocal in a meeting, but the one question they ask is the one that shifts the entire direction of the conversation. They might not be the motivational speaker on the stage, but they commit themselves deeply to making sure that individual people develop to their full potential. They might not be the consummate networking type who has 500+ connections on Linkedin, but they are keenly aware of whom they need to build authentic and meaningful relationships with and they make those interactions count.

Most of all, I appreciate that they are true to their personalities, but still find their own unique ways to ensure that their voice is heard, their ideas shared, and their difference made.

So, your question for the day: How can you be a “difference maker” in your universe?

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