Renew and Transform

by  Mike Henry  |  Community Involvement

Liz Strauss (web, blog, Twitter) reminded me last week that a leader is someone who wants to build something they can’t build alone.  Lead Change is about making a positive difference.  This year, I will spend my effort moving the “difference needle.”

Moving the difference needle in our culture requires more than just a tweet chat and discounts on books or motivational posters.  It requires more than web traffic or encouraging social media interactions with a group of like-minded friends.  How can we move the difference needle in 2011?  Before the how, let’s examine four questions that answer the Why and What of moving the needle.

Why improve my surroundings? If there is no lasting benefit in doing something for others, why bother?  We should all just look out for ourselves.  But something in me wants to outlive my life.  Something in me wants to create value for others.  I didn’t put that something inside me, it’s just there.  Our culture didn’t put it there either.  Wealth and stuff won’t fill the hole in my spirit.  The only value that lasts is that which lives on in others.  My treasure isn’t in a bank.  It’s in the lives of people.

Why move the needle? If this is just going to be a small difference, then I’d rather be golfing.  Let’s take up another hobby.  Besides, hobbyists will not bring about cultural transformation.  Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  If this were easy, we could just make a few clicks and it would be over.  Moving the needle and making a difference in our communities will take more than that.

Let’s make a dent in the universe! – Steve Jobs

What kind of difference? The effect you have on the life of another person is either positive or negative.  There is no neutral.  To make a positive difference, you have to create a positive effect.  Generally, that means adding value.  Others judge your interaction and assign a value to the result and determine if it is positive or negative.  Others always determine the value of your interactions with them.  You determine the cost of the interaction but not the value.  Our communities determine the value.  Look around you?  What types of problems face your community or your organization?

What people? Here’s the sticky part.  I don’t want to just help people.  I want to help people who help people.  Leaders influence others.  If those leaders create a positive influence, they affect the next “generation” in terms of leadership.  But if the recipients simply end it there, little changed.  Sure, one generation benefited, but what about the others. I don’t think one generation moves the needle.  That’s why I need to be helping leaders help leaders.

Helping Leaders Grow Leaders has been the tag line for this page, but Liz gave me another challenge too.  I hope to take “help” out of my vocabulary.  It’s like “try.”  To paraphrase Yoda, there is no help…  only do.  Join me this year as we Lead Change – Leaders Growing Leaders.

We’re going to discuss some new ideas for “how” to move the needle in a call this Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 8 PM Eastern.  We’re using a webinar tool because I have a few slides to present reviewing a survey the Contributing Members took part in during December.  Then we’ll start to discuss our plans for 2011.  Will you join us for the call? Subsequent posts will recap the conversation and talk about how the entire Lead Change community will energize, equip and encourage you to grow leaders in your sphere of influence!

Photo Running On Empty © Richard Gunion

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Shawn Murphy  |  03 Jan 2011  |  Reply

One of my mantras is, “Who am I being so that others realize how great they are.” What you are writing about reminds me of this. Indeed, we are here to help each other in this world. It’s not a calling, but a necessity.

You embody the heart of what you write in this post. I am proud to be a contributing member of Lead Change. And I’m honored to have you as a compadre in our leadership journeys. Here’s to never arrive and enjoying the trip.

William Powell  |  04 Jan 2011  |  Reply

“You determine the cost of the interaction…our communities determine the value.” If ever there was a better description of allowing the needs of others to become our responsibilities, I haven’t it found it yet.

This has always been close to my heart and your post definitely made sure I keep close to that conviction. Thanks for the reminder!


Jane Perdue  |  04 Jan 2011  |  Reply

Mike —

Your excellent remarks about ‘trying’ brought to mind Susan Mazza’s great work on accountability. She uses a sliding scale from ‘try’ to ‘do’ to ‘commit’ which I think perfectly encapsulates the process.

I’ve committed the second act of my life to working with leaders who are committed to making a positive difference for themselves and for others. The Lead Change group shares this purpose, and I’m delighted to be a contributing member.

With a smile,


Don Shapiro  |  04 Jan 2011  |  Reply

Making a difference in this world is what it’s all about. Like you said, if we can’t move the needle enough, might as well spend time on a hobby. I believe in big, bold visions…huge goals, major accomplishments, the Super Bowl Ring, the medal stand at the Olympics and Sandy Koufax pitching no hitters over and over (sorry to date myself a little here but he is one of my big time heroes).

What I have loved about the Lead Change Group from the first moment is that everyone I have met on-line and at LeaderPalooza all want the same thing in their own unique way. We all want to make a big difference and leave this world a much better place while we still inhabit this earth.

Now, more than ever, our homes, our communities, our organizations, our country, our world need leadership. Not just people in positions of authority but people who can teach, inspire and guide people to seek more, do more and change things for the better. If each of us inspires just one person to lead and that person inspires just one person to do the same before you know it we’ve created a legacy that will last an eternity…a world filled with true leaders.



Join The Conversation