All Articles Leadership Careers Making a difference in others' lives

Making a difference in others’ lives

4 min read


When I left my corporate job years ago for the risky business of starting something on my own, several people asked me if I was afraid. To me, it was an odd question because I saw myself as headed on a new adventure that stretched me and used my strengths and passion. These were things I’d always valued in the work I did.

Yet when I considered the question about fear and became curious about what was behind it, I realized that the point others were making to me had to do with financial security. They were wondering how I might feel about leaving the security of a regular and substantial paycheck, benefits, and other financial perks of working for a large company.

Although I can’t deny that I had some passing thoughts about that (especially when people reminded me that I should be fearful!), money has never been a big motivator for me. I realized years ago that my motivator (passion) is to make a difference in the lives of leaders, and I couldn’t see my way to that in the corporate situation I was in.

I was ready to leave my corporate post. Yet, then and now, I believe it’s possible to find a way to affect others in a positive way wherever you are,  especially as a corporate leader. I find that many leaders have a passion toward making a difference in the lives of their followers. In fact, as a leader, it is your responsibility to find passion in the work you do and to help others to find theirs.

Affecting the lives of your followers is a big part of what you do, and for many, it’s the place where you’ll derive the most satisfaction. It’s also the key to results for your organization.

You see, when you affect your followers in a positive way, you promote:

Confidence. It would be rare for you to hear someone admit that they don’t have self-confidence. But if you listen closely, you’ll be able to hear doubts. When you observe, you may be able to see someone holding back, not using their full potential. Letting them know that you have confidence in their ability by what you say (thanking them for a job well done) and do (allowing them the freedom to achieve goals their way) will build them up and make them stronger as individuals.

Development. A leader’s job isn’t to do the work for their followers but to help them to think about how best to get the work done. There is always a way, even when they get stuck. It isn’t your job to find that way but to help them to find the way. When you do, they learn and develop. They get better so that the next time they learn to think for themselves.

Team strength. By being the catalyst to help your team connect and work together, you’ve helped them to strengthen. By not tolerating poor performers and by promoting (in word and deed) good performers, you’ve removed barriers to team success. By modeling all of the important behaviors of leaders — listening, encouragement, communicating the vision, holding people accountable (to name a few) — you’ve shown others that by holding yourself to high standards, you expect them to follow suit.

Motivation rarely comes in a paycheck; money is one of those basic needs that helps us to clothe, feed, and shelter ourselves and our loved ones. If you are a corporate leader, don’t confuse having a regular paycheck with what motivates you. Find a way to make a difference to others; this is where your fulfillment comes from. When your followers have confidence, are learning and are part of a strong team, the business results will follow.