Great Leaders Don’t Set Out to Be a Leader

They Want to Make a Difference

Seldom does an individual sense the call of leadership at an early age; as in “I’m going to be a fireman” or “I’m going to be an astronaut”.

“I’m going to be a leader” is not usually the designated path. People with innate skills and passions to make good leaders start out with a desire to make a difference. As the graphic says, “it’s not about the role, but always about the goal.”


I spent my early years pursuing a military career. It wasn’t because I liked war; quite the contrary. I wanted to make a difference serving my country. Without exception, the other military personnel I met and worked with had the same sense of purpose. They never wanted to GO to war, but they not afraid of the potential outcome should a war develop.

Starting a new business is seldom about making the money. It’s about making a difference. I know a young man, Jeremy, whom I now call friend, who opened a fitness program in our community. It is called Iron Tribe. The program is vastly different from the usual big box gym model. At the core of the Iron Tribe is the message “changing lives inside and outside the gym.” They live it, mean it, and above all, do it.

Jeremy and some of his coaches

Jeremy and some of his coaches

This Iron Tribe gym has opened its doors to community outreach, sponsoring blood drives when friends and family have needs, lifting up members who are experiencing tough times, and keeping connected with every member on a very personal basis. And it’s real. It’s not about the high pressure promotion to join. It’s about making a difference in each and every life. That is leadership.


Great leaders emerge from the dedicated effort to make a difference. As they go about their work, the sense of commitment, direction, and drive are recognized by those around them. Opportunities open up. Others begin to say “I want that person on my team”.

Why do you think it is that CEO’s with good records move across whole industries to take on new challenges? The proven skills that come from the commitment to make the difference become hot commodities.

New Managers

As a young, first-time manager, your primary focus should be to define the difference you can make. You may have been selected to be a unit manager without ever first wanting the job.

Now that the role is yours, stop thinking about how to be a better manager and start thinking about the difference you can make for your team. Leadership will emerge.

As you set about making the decisions needed to make the difference, your natural leadership tendencies will begin to take shape. Day by day, your leadership skills will evolve. Experience will become your best teacher.

When challenges arise (and they will), you can seek advice from those more senior, get a mentor or coach, and grow into the role.

Stay centered on the purpose for your role; the difference you can make.

For more ideas on ways to become a better manager, check out my new book “The Uncommon Commodity” I’ll show simple, common sense ways to build your management and leadership skill sets and grow your ability to make a difference.


Some quotes attributed to Lisa Haisha

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.