word of 2013

A friend recently asked a group of us what word we would use to describe our year ahead.  Everyone shared something different.  One said “sparkly” because she’s getting married this year.  Another shared “hope.”  It took me only one moment to decide on my word for the year:



My goal is to change the world, one person at a time.  If I had to summarize that goal into one word, it would be “difference.”

I have attempted to make a difference in the lives of the people I work with over the last 20 years.  Through career coaching, one-on-one mentorship, and all sort of other activities, I have made it my business to connect with others and affect their lives in a positive way.  I’d like to hope I’ve been successful in helping at least one person at each job, project or other assignment I’ve taken on.

Throughout the last two decades, my focus has primarily been on those I manage in some capacity.  When you have large teams, it’s easy to do.  Being responsible for dozens of people requires a focus on their needs, balanced against achieving the objectives of the organization or project.  The more demanding the objective, and the larger the team, the easier it is to stay laser focused on your immediate environment.

With my recent role change, I do not directly manage as many people as I am used to.  The change has allowed me the time and space necessary to realize that I have the opportunity to look beyond the needs of my direct team to those of the broader organization.  While I try to make sure my projects and objectives align to that broader vision, I have left organizational “people stuff” to groups like HR.  Either that, or I assumed that it was appropriate for each manager to support their resources the way I have supported mine.  Until now.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently started facilitating a gathering of leaders.  In between such gatherings, we’ve been reaching out to each other for support and feedback.  This week, I was brought into a development challenge by one of my peers.  I was more than happy to help.

There is an individual contributor that senior leadership has approached about a management position.  This particular individual is not sure it’s the right next step for her career.  Those of us that know her think she’s just the right type of person to be responsible for others.  She just needs to get herself there.

I asked if my peer minded me reaching out to have a conversation.  After the “of course not!” I made the call.  I immediately connected with this aspiring leader’s challenge.  She thinks leadership is what she wants, but she has questions and is not sure where to go.  She has started reading, but doesn’t know if the books she’s selected are the right ones.  She needs a little bit of guidance to get her started and she’ll be on her way.  She doesn’t realize, and no one has shared with her yet, the world of resources just around the corner, ready and willing to help.

The result of that conversation is the first draft of an “Aspiring Leaders 101 Guide” (later updated as a dedicated Resource page).  It’s not all things leadership.  There are too many people out there, sharing relevant and thought provoking insight for me to be so bold as to try.  Instead, it’s a collection of resources – websites/blogs, books, twitter connections, tweet chats, Google+ communities and more – that aspiring leaders can use to get started in their journey.

The guide is not intended to capture every resource available.  The leadership community and resources are too vast for that.  Instead, they are resources I use and/or would recommend to others.  I expect that the guide will change over time as I find or hear about other valuable resources.  If you’re not included, or a key resource you have used in your journey isn’t listed, please don’t be insulted.  I may not have found you yet.  Those interested in helping aspiring leaders find their way, feel free to leave a comment with other resources that might help.

While the guide was written to help one person, if it’s beneficial to more, all the better.  There is only one goal.  DIFFERENCE.


What is your word of the year?