mindset2I hear the same doubt expressed over and over again by good people upset over conditions in their workplace. It sounds something like: “Can I really make a difference? I’m just one person.”

The often unspoken trailer is: “…and I am not the CEO or a senior executive, and they are the ones who have to change to make this place better.”

To the core question, my answer is a resounding “Yes, YOU can make a difference. YES, one person can make a difference.”

Here’s Why and How:

  • In the stormiest of corporate cultures, you can create an oasis of civility, respect and support with your team. 100 percent of these behaviors are within your control.
  • You can choose to pay attention to people around you and offer meaningful coaching and feedback. There is no person or policy or cultural norm that can keep you from doing this in the course of your daily interactions.
  • You can lead the charge on addressing orphan problems. Many lingering organizational problems exist in a gray zone where ownership is uncertain. You can claim these unglamorous issues and bring others together to take care of them.
  • Communication is always an issue, but you can be the solution. No one is barring you from sharing updates, inviting people outside your department to your meetings or going the extra mile to keep everyone around you informed of changes.
  • Tunnel vision emerges on almost every team and in every organization, but no one has forced blinders on your eyes. There is not a single barrier keeping you from teaching and pushing people to look beyond the window in the conference room overlooking the parking lot to customers, the industry at large and the changes and happenings in other industries and technologies.
  • We like to complain about the decisions of others, yet there is nothing stopping you from cultivating, teaching and applying good decision-making processes and practices.
  • Most of the work of an organization takes place well below the ranks of senior leaders. You can foment a positive revolution of respect, continuous improvement and customer focus by serving as the example.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Your positive example in dealing with every person and every issue will stand out to others as a sign of inspiration and hope, even in the worst of cultures. While many around you like to complain and point fingers, the few who choose to stand up and lead are the difference makers. Be one of those. It is completely within your control.

text signature for Art


Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.






Art Petty is a speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.