Making a Difference

“Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” Barbara Mikulski

The really gifted leaders do it because they have a passion to make a difference, to, as Steve Jobs once said “..make a dent in the universe.”   Leaders owe that level of caring and commitment to their employees and organizations so together they can do the challenging things necessary to make the change that Barbara Mikluski spoke about.  Without it, the true potential of people and organizations can’t be realized.

We see them every day. Companies that are on auto pilot, doing the same things they have done for years, even decades. Their people are going through the motions, showing up, marking time, getting by, and living lives of quiet desperation.  A few businesses may even be profitable in the near term, but the life has left them and they are getting by on borrowed time.  In government and the not-for-profit worlds, the distorting effects of free money can delay inevitable failure for decades, absent a public and catastrophic event.  But even that may not reverse the trend and those organizations continue to plod along.  We hear about these organizations almost daily in the news; OPM, Veterans Affairs, and others.

The essential element of passion for the mission, people, and organization can only come from its leaders.  They must genuinely care and want to “put a dent in the universe” by bringing together and empowering the forces of change.  This passion can be infectious in the best possible way and is imparted throughout the company to inspire and motivate employees, who recognize and empathize with authentic caring and commitment.

Conversely, leaders whose primary motivations are to “make money and entitle themselves in other ways,” appeal to none of the loftier instincts of their employees, who are just as quick to understand the motivation of self interest as they do that of the inspiring leader.  They will respond accordingly to both models.

No matter how highly developed an organization’s products, processes, structure, and expertise, the indispensable element of the leadership’s commitment to making a difference is the ultimate determinate of triumph.

Leaders have to care about caring; and not about themselves.

“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” Toni Morrison

Keith Stalder, #55

Copyright © 2015 Keith Stalder & Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

Keith Stalder has over 40 years of leadership experience in organizations from the very large and established to small technology start ups and everything in between.  With a broad and deep appreciation for, and understanding of, the fundamental challenges of organizations and businesses, both in government and the private sectors, his passion is to help all organizations become all that they aspire to.  He is the founder of Keith Stalder and Associates, LLC, a company dedicated to advancing organizational visions and fundamentally transforming how businesses everywhere are run.  Visit for more information.