How to Make a Difference that Matters
A life that matters is not about desire; it’s about how.
Leaders who make a difference develop internally and explore externally. Neglect one and you won’t make a difference that matters.
High impact begins internally with who you are. From this vantage point, making a difference that matters is all about you. It includes knowing your:
The other side of high impact leadership is external. It centers on challenges, needs, opportunities, and problems others face. From this vantage point, making a difference that matters is all about them.
Leaders that make a difference
that matters never live in a vacuum.
Leaders who make a difference that matters have:
- Compassionate hearts.
- Generous spirits. It means thinking about giving. Success is about how you serve and what you give.
- Practical minds that meet real needs. Compassion and generosity don’t work apart from practical solutions.
- Courage to act. Cowards never live lives that matter.
The formula for high impact leadership is bringing the internal you to an external challenge. Look within and then look without.
- Ask, “What’s not working?”
- Explore and embrace the value you bring.
- Listen for pain and pressure points.
- Set out to improve something.
- Stop blaming others for not doing something. When you blame others for not doing something you’re no different from the blamers you’re blaming.
- Think about things you can do rather than things you can’t.
Every problem you see is a leadership opportunity. The more pressing the need the more your leadership matters and the more value you bring.
If you want to matter more,
solve problems that matter most to others.
High impact leaders bring themselves (internal world) to challenges (external world).
- Trust your voice.
- Rely on your gifts.
- Build on your aptitudes.
- Follow your passions.
What holds people back from making a difference that matters?
What other qualities do high impact leaders have?
Some great truths…leadership characteristics that genuinely make a difference…
Dan, I think many times people wait for other to come alongside them, that are not meant to be there. Leaders are meant to lead. That can mean that you might have to go at alone, at least at first, until others see that you are making a difference.
From another point of view, one way we can make a difference that matters is be the person who comes alongside someone who’s waiting for someone to come along side. 🙂
Very good point, Dan, re: coming alongside. The best leaders I’ve know listened carefully, mentored, and developed people, while continually providing stretch goals.
Excellent summary! So confirming!
Fear holds us back from most things, I think, Dan. One of my fav quotes from the book Dune…”fear is the mind-killer…”
Impact leaders have integrity. everything they do and say must fit together with their core values and beliefs.
Thanks for being a regular and thanks for bringing the problem of fear to the conversation. Have a great weekend.
Thanks Dan for another insightful article.
A deliberate leader who position him/herself to influence others, understands the need to develop both internally and externally.
This is such an encouragement to where I am at at this moment and I am grateful.
Again thank you,
Best wishes for the journey Kel.
Dan- I think that being a “by-stander” is one behavior that may stop people from becoming leaders and making a difference. When you see something wrong or unjust, many people do not do anything, waiting for someone else to step in!
Leaders aren’t bystanders unless it’s because they are making room for others to join and then it’s enabling the team, not bystanding.
I would have to add persistence to the list – leaders don’t give up on challenges that can make a difference. Great post!
So true Andrea. Leaders aren’t like butterflies. Great add.
I like the butterfly illustration. It applies not only to persistence, but also to focus. Acting as a “mental butterfly” flitting from project to project, rather than picking the best among the good, is a sure way to waste resources, discourage people, and achieve mediocrity.
I like this post. It’s very straight to the point, written so intelligently yet easy for people to remember, and it brings up some really vital traits and necessities in acts of Leadership.
I most like the part about following our passions, because when we do that, we can truly know the importance of what we’re doing and have that built-in everlasting motivation to keep us going, even against the odds, and against any obstacles. Also, it’s good when we can enjoy being constructive with the positive impacts we’re making.
Thank you for joining the conversation Tothian. I enjoy how you connect passion with motivation. It’s interesting to think about which comes first and the power of that interaction.
‘If you want to matter more,’ collaboratively’
‘solve problems that matter to others’. Fixing a problem is not leading.
Things that hold one back–leaders (really managers) who step in too soon, confidence, as Martina noted, ‘fear’—on so many levels it’s amazing, denial of an issue or a weakness, traumatization, past negative experiences…
Qualities of high impact leaders–verve, moxie, ardor, drive, internal sense of urgency conveyed outward, good and dark humours, ability to see limits and want to extend them for the right reasons…
I love, “Fixing problems isn’t leading” So powerful.
Your insight is important in this conversation. I still hold to the idea that making a difference that matters is about addressing issues/problems that matter to others. BUT, you remind me that leading is not a solo activity. Thank you!
I appreciate the post, it covers very useful points. Pain and pressure points play crucial role in making leaders. Those moments shape minds to take decision that matters. I strongly believe that circumstance provide strong platform for individuals to turn into leaders. Also such odd circumstances opens options to exercise leadership that matter. Favorable and comfortable generally do not provide push and passion to exercise leadership decision that matter. So, I believe it is the time and moments that hold back people in making difference that matter. And high impact leaders are borne by circumstances and situations. They emerge from environment, suffering, suppression and oppression. They also emerge out of concern and limitation of people and resources.
So, time shape people turning into leaders. And circumstances make people into extra ordinary people. And leaders are nothing but ordinary people with extra ordinary qualities.
I am printing this one out and putting it on my office wall. I have been grappling with courage this week to make the difference that I want to make in the world. “Cowards never live lives that matter.” It is my new mantra. Thank you, wholeheartedly, for this post!
I know I want to make a difference by touching others but I don’t know how then I read this great post! Thanks so much Dan!
What a fantastic blog. It’s so helpful reading it and contemplating it prior to going into work. It’s excellent at combating the bad news usually on the radio – I try and stay informed with what’s happening and your work is just another, more positive angle that actually improves my presence at work. Keep it up! – Chris
Great points Dan, especially thinking about the things you can do instead of the things you cannot. This happen far too often in the workplace. When either myself or a team member brings up a problem we have to also bring a couple of ideas of things we can do to fix it. It works good and keeps the whinners away. 🙂
This one was a truly great post. Have to agree on all the points above. First you build yourself, you find your passions and you think that this is the meaning of your existence. Then, you start giving away and giving back to others and helping others build themselves. And this is where you *really* find the meaning of your life.
Well, yours is much nicely worded! Thank you for writing it!