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Making a Difference

"Each day brings you opportunities to raise important questions, speak to higher values, and surface unresolved conflicts. Every day you have the chance to make a difference in the lives of people around you." -Ronald Heifetz, Leadership on the Line

Driving change upward is often a high-risk, low-reward game. Top executives customarily drive change downward. Nestled in their corner offices, those bureaucrats are less in touch with technology, customer wishes, or workforce capabilities than employees who are working on the front lines. For a company to remain competitive, new ideas must originate from all levels of the corporate hierarchy. But rising up to promote change might earn you an ill-favored reputation as a rebel. Policy makers -- especially those entrenched at the top of a bureaucracy -- are probably the people who established the very practices you are trying to change. Having the audacity to suggest improving or abandoning long-standing procedures is politically dangerous, and, quite often, when suggestions are well received, the bureaucrats take credit for those ideas, anyway.

So is it really worth the risk? Yes, if the changes you advocate are equally important to the values of your employees and your organization. Those common values provide workers with the meaning and connection they need in their jobs. What's more, pushing for change separates leaders from bureaucrats. It divides those living by their organization's values from those simply offering lip service. It will help you make a difference.

Are you ready to take the risk?
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