Roger Fairhead Certificate JMT Certified

Making a difference in 2021

What’s the difference you want to make,
and what makes you different?

~ Roger Fairhead

We are about to embark on the second year of The Disruption, and this time of year gives many people time to pause and to think about what we’re going to look back on next Christmas as 2021 draws to a close.  You know, ‘start with the end in mind’, as the popular adage goes. So, here’s something to think on:  What’s the difference you want to make, and what makes you different?

You see, it’s by understanding the answer to these two questions that we can see our ‘North Star’, our guiding light for the activities we’re going to engage in this year, and I’m going to focus on the first question in this article.

What’s the difference you want to make?

The PRIZE Winning Leadership model uses a theory of change that is firmly based on understanding the answer to that question, and it can be asked in the context of your personal challenges in life, or of your company, your charity, your community, a corporation and indeed of a country.  (You may want to check out some earlier blogs in the series “How to make your business Pandemic Tolerant”.)

Once you have an idea of the difference you want to make then you can go on to figure out the outcomes that will make that difference become a reality.  In this season of disruption as new challenges and opportunities emerge around us, it would make sense to really understand the outcomes needed to make the difference we want to make.  That will help us to figure out the outputs we need to build into 2021 to make sure the right outcomes are achieved to make the difference we want to make.  

What’s the difference you want to make, in 2021?

Some years ago my wife (Sue) and I were heading off to visit with our daughter who lived in Reigate at the time, just south of London.  Now, we live in Staffordshire which is in the Midlands, so, normally we would travel south using the M6, M42 and the M40, but on this occasion, Google Maps told me that there was unusually heavy traffic on the M40.  Ultimately it turned out that there had been an accident and the M40 ended up being closed for several hours, but we didn’t know that at the time.  

So let’s think about this for a moment in the context of our current COVID disruption, and maybe it will help us to see the outcomes with more clarity, and the outputs we will need to pursue in 2021 in a new and helpful way.  There are evidently signs of congestion along the route we had planned prior to this season of disruption occurring; that is Before COVID.

Now, on the journey to visit my daughter I had a choice to make: do we go west on the A50 towards the M6 and travel via the M42 and the M40, or change the route and start off in entirely the opposite direction by going east on the A50 to join the M1?  Actually, it didn’t matter much whether we used the M6/M42/M40, or went to join the M1, but it did matter that I decided one way or the other.  It also mattered whether I believed that Google Maps was giving accurate information, or that “it would probably be all right by the time we get there” and use the route I usually took.  

Google Maps tells me that the alternative journey would take around 3 hours and 40 minutes, which is about 30 minutes longer than the usual time for the original route.  However, if the M40 motorway was actually closed and I ended up stuck in traffic my original route could take many hours longer.  

Leaders bring certainty into a world filled with uncertainty

In my journey to Reigate, it was fairly easy to see how I could bring some certainty into a journey where there was some uncertainty over potential delays, however that meant that I needed to start my journey heading in entirely the opposite direction.  

As you start in 2021, don’t be distracted by outputs that were designed to deliver outcomes in different circumstances.  We need to focus on finding the right outputs to deliver in 2021 that will produce the outcomes we want to pursue to make the difference we want to make.  

As a difference-maker, the difference we want to make can remain largely unchanged, however, the outcomes and outputs that we pursue to make that difference will probably need to change.  

(By the way, in my view that’s not pivoting, that’s leadership. To pivot means to change the business fundamentally because you realise the current products or services are no longer meeting the needs of the market.  To pivot is to make a different difference, and once that’s clear then a similar process can be followed.)

Case Study – the Global Leadership Network UK

The Global Leadership Network UK and Ireland is an organisation that has been “Bringing World-Class Leadership Development ideas to the UK & Ireland since 1995” via some 15 to 25 in-person Summit events during October and November to several thousand delegates.  

It has a vision: “For leaders across the UK and Ireland to bring measurable change to their world through intentional leadership development.”

This time last year our plan was to deliver outputs in the form of in-person summit events.  In March last year, we saw that “there was some congestion up ahead” on our metaphorical M40, so we decided to bring some certainty into the world of uncertainty we were facing and we changed direction, going east not west as it were, and we decided to go “Digital-First”.  

Our vision hadn’t changed; we still wanted to help leaders bring measurable change to their world. The difference we wanted to make was unchanged, the outcomes we wanted to pursue were unchanged, however, the outputs were now significantly different, and were something we had never done before.  

So far in our digital-first strategy, we have delivered seven digital Summit events to over 2,000 delegates and we have another five summit events lined up to deliver in the first half of 2021.  We have also delivered over a dozen digital Webinars with each event attracting between 100 and 250 delegates, and we already have another dozen lined up for the first half of 2021.  

The difference we want to make is unchanged.  The outcomes we want to pursue are unchanged.  However, the outputs we delivered in 2020 and that we plan to deliver in 2021 are quite different from the outputs that we had planned at the start of 2020.  

So, here’s something to think on:  

What’s the difference you want to make, in 2021? and

What will you see next Christmas looking back on 2021 as the year draws to a close?

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.