You Can Make A Difference Whatever Your Title

By Shirley Taylor

I recently published my first article in my series of key insights fromthe Future Leaders Summit. This was an online event I hosted recently, in whichthousands of attendees from around the world learned from 31 interviews that Iconducted with bestselling authors and leadership experts.

In today’s article, I share some key insights from my interview with Mark Sanborn, bestselling author, speaker and advisor to leaders. I have been a fan of Mark’s since I first read his book “The Fred Factor” many years ago. I found the story about Fred the postman quite fascinating. The ‘Fred philosophy’ is to realise that everyone can make a difference, and that passion in our work and life can turn the ordinary into extraordinary.

Mark has written many other books, and in our interview we discussed the concept “You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader”. It’s true that we usually think of leaders as those at the top of an organization. However, Mark got the inspiration to write this book after many leaders told him stories about employees who were doing great leadership work even though they had no official title.

You are a leader if you make a positive difference, if you make an impact on others, through whatyou do and how you do it.


So What Keeps People From Leading?

Mark shared that unfortunately many people in non-leadership roles don’t try to make an impact for various reasons:

  1. Mistaking controlling for leading. Maybe they have worked for a leader who micromanaged and controlled the results that employees achieved.
  2. Lack of awareness that they can lead. Some people are often unaware they can lead unless they accidentally stumble upon it.
  3. Not sure how to lead. Some people want to make a difference but are not sure how.

How Can You Add Value?

Employees who consistently add value will be recognized as people who produce results. These are the people who will get noticed for all the right reasons, and they are the people most likely to be promoted into formal leadership positions.

Do you get noticed at work for the right reasons or the wrong reasons?


So how can you add value? Mark shared with me what he calls the ‘ROI Factor’, which effective leaders use consistently. This is something we could all use, no matter what our title.

  • The R is for relationships. Anytime you develop a better relationship with a vendor, customer, colleague or stakeholder, that’s a form of leadership.
  • The O is for outcomes, which are the results you will achieve.
  • The I is for improvement, making things a little bit better using innovation and creativity.

“It’s not the job you have, it’s you do the job you do that makes a difference.”


What Can YOU Do Today To Make A Difference?

When conducting training for an organization in Singapore last week, I was happy to see a poster in the pantry encouraging staff to “Show your appreciation today!” This reminded of my discussion with Mark about how anyone can make a difference, no matter what their title. Here are some simple examples of how you can make a difference today or any day:

  • Congratulate a colleague on great work on a recent project.
  • Stop by someone’s desk to say hi and ask if they had a great weekend.
  • Give someone a Kit Kat chocolate bar with a little note “You deserve a break.”
  • Offer to lend a hand if you notice someone needs help.
  • Pick up cookies or cupcakes and leave in the pantry for everyone.

What will YOU do today to make a difference?


I hope you enjoyed learning some of the key insights from my interview with Mark Sanborn. I would love you to share your thoughts:

If you’re a leader, how do some of your team members make an impact?

If you’re not a leader, what do you do to make an impact?

Here’s to your success!

Shirley

PS: Please look out for my next article where I’ll be sharing some of the key insights from my interview with Sally Helgesen, who co-authored the book “How Women Rise” with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. In our interview, Sally discusses the roadblocks that hold women back and how we can identify our blind spots.

Shirley Taylor is a popular speaker, trainer and author of 12 successful books on email, communication and business writing skills. Her bestselling book Model Business Letters, Emails and Other Business Documents seventh edition has sold over half a million copies all over the world.

Shirley is originally from Sheffield, UK, and now lives in Singapore where she conducts popular workshops on business writing, communication skills and e-mail writing. Shirley is a Certified Speaking Professional, one of fewer than 700 in the whole world. Find out more about Shirley and her state-of-the-art, interactive virtual training program ‘Business Writing that Works’ at http://www.ShirleyTaylorVT.com and http://www.ShirleyTaylor.com.

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