Difference Taker, or Difference Maker
Credit Piracy and Blame Avoidance?
The other day I was reminded of a colleague from a firm I worked at some years ago. I’ll call him Steve. The phrase that was used to describe him evoked quite a vivid image, and for the blog I’ll use the more polite form that is summarised as “Credit Piracy and Blame Avoidance”. Steve had progressed through the management hierarchy quite quickly as a result of some effective work, however, the popular opinion was that he was quite good at finding convincing reasons why any mistakes along the way were not his and that any and all successes were all due to his personal involvement. Maybe you know of someone like that too?
The Apprentice-style Project Manager
If you watch the popular media, then you wouldn’t be surprised at that approach. Programs such as “The Apprentice” which is now screened in over 20 countries seem to promote and reward such behaviour. The series started out in the US being billed as “The Ultimate Job Interview” with more than a dozen career minded hopefuls competing for the prospect of a $250k job to run one of Donald Trump’s companies, and was subsequently handed off to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 15th season after Trump declared his candidacy to become the 45th US President in 2017.
The show has become associated with the catchphrase “you’re fired” and seems to celebrate disagreements, disputes and dismissals on the way to selecting the eventual winner. It’s interesting to note that the legacy of the show seems in some cases to have been most successful for the candidates who didn’t win the contest.
I have watched the UK series, where Sir Alan Sugar sets tasks for the eager participants to embrace with enthusiasm, and where they appoint a “Project Manager” to guide them, although it seems more like the blind leading the blind sometimes. Much was made during the show of interpersonal conflict and sadly there seems to have been more audience appeal for contestants undermining each other rather than getting to know each other and working together.
Inexperienced leaders are quick to lead before knowing anything about the people they intend to lead. But mature leaders listen, learn, and then lead.~ John Maxwell
Scarcity Mindset or Abundance Mindset
One of the underlying thoughts in popular culture often appears to support the scarcity mindset that life is like a pie; there is only so much to go around, and that if I allow you to get some then I’ll inevitable miss out. If I am going to win, someone else has to lose. However, there is another way. It doesn’t have to be like that.
Leaders with an abundance mentality and approach to their work focus instead on the possibilities rather than the problems, on what could be rather than what is; on what they want to do rather than on what’s convenient, on what they could achieve, not what they can achieve.
A great way of describing the difference between abundance- versus scarcity-based thinking is described really well by the authors of “Blue Ocean Strategy”, Kim and Mauborgne. Here they describe the scarcity-based thinking as a Red Ocean, where all the inhabitants fight over market share, and contrast that with the abundance-based thinking as a Blue Ocean, a new market space. Think of the Ford Model-T making cars accessible to a mass-market; the iPhone, the original smart-phone in a world dominated by Nokia and Blackberry; and BandAid in a world of charity fundraising, and there are many other similar examples.
“Blue ocean strategy is about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant. It is based on the view that market boundaries and industry structure are not a given and can be reconstructed by the actions and beliefs of industry players.”
Do Motives Matter?
Our business culture affects our motives, and our motives determine the reasons we do the things we do, reflecting our values and our beliefs. Our motives influence how we act, and they influence the people we interact with. So, the question we have to know the answer to in our lives and in our leadership is “do motives matter?”. Does it matter how we treat our colleagues and co-workers, or even how we talk about our competitors? Is it a “dog eat dog world” or do we collaborate for increased success?
“The handshake of the host~ Benjamin Franklin.
affects the taste of the roast.”
Is my organisation a difference taker
or a difference maker?
Difference Takers seek ways for winning at the expense of a competitor, aggressively taking market share. Difference Makers see room for innovation and improvement and explore how they can help to change things for the better. Where am I?
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.