Mike Henry on Lead Change Group:“We can all make a positive difference. We don’t need permission”

m_cactusThe Lead Change Group is a global, virtual community dedicated to instigating a leadership revolution, one leader at a time. Mike Henry, Sr. founded the group in 2009 to instigate a leadership revolution. It became one of the most socially shared leadership blogs and they published a multi-author book about character-based leadership, The Character-Based Leader.
Since 2014, Becky Robinson and her company WeavingInfluence own and support this vibrant community as Mike focused on other priorities (but he is still contributing). Time for a chat with these two driven, inspiring leaders.

Marcella Bremer: Why were you so driven to make a difference with the Lead Change Group? And, who is Mike Henry?

m_mike henryMike Henry: “I had just been laid off and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I began to inventory my strengths and my passions. I think most of the world’s problems are leadership related. I agree with author John Maxwell that leadership is influence, and I wanted to challenge people to be a positive influence. On my own, I would never make that big of a dent, but as part of a community maybe we could make a difference.”

Most of the world's problems are leadership related. Click To Tweet

“On Twitter there were so many tweets, but so little action. I wanted to focus on the outcome of better leadership: change. Talk and intention are empty without results. My goal was to instigate people to take responsibility for their own leadership development, become a better leader and go change something for the better.”

“I counted up that I had worked for 25 people at 13 different companies in 4 different industries and in 4 different areas of business. I wondered what my message would be. My passion is action. I can’t avoid every mistake, but my preference is to avoid the mistake of inaction. So I decided to take what I had learned and start publishing it on the Internet.

I realized we can all make a positive difference. We don’t need permission. We simply need to resist the inertia of our lives and do something different. Lead Change Group is the outcome of creating a LinkedIn Group. Once I did and invited friends to join I asked: what can we do? We authored a book, a heavily-read and shared blog, raised some money for a charity, had a face-to-face meeting and created a number of synergies that resulted in other books, training, collaborations, jobs and so on. The individuals of Lead Change make a positive difference every day. All I did was find a way to bring them together and get to know each other.”

My passion is action. I avoid the mistake of inaction. Click To Tweet

Marcella Bremer: You write that we have a crisis of leadership – we trust leaders less than ever. Is it worldwide or especially in the USA?

m_badgesMike Henry: “I’m afraid the crisis won’t go away soon, and it is definitely global. The world tries to convince us doing good is fruitless. The way traditional media works is designed to create fear and anxiety and make us believe we can’t make a difference. Stories of people who actually implement positive change are rare, which is why your magazine is so important.

Globally, in the macro, we feel hopeless and helpless. But individually, we are powerful. Individually we make a huge difference. The revolution is individual. We each must revolt against our nature and decide to take responsibility for the difference we will we make in the world. The minute we take responsibility, we start to develop as a character-based leader. Our “who-we-are” makes a dent in the world.”

The minute we take responsibility, we start to develop character Click To Tweet

Marcella Bremer: What has changed since you started in 2009? Are the world and workplaces making any progress?

m_handsMike Henry: “The Internet is transforming the world. More and more individuals and very small organizations are empowered by it. However, many of them are doing so for self, power, or position or money. The message of Lead Change relates to purpose. Purpose gives us the ability to include others in our effort, and it’s becoming more important. The freedom of dialog and the power of individuals to be heard in newer, non-traditional media give me hope. The Internet that makes it easier to scam, but also makes it easier to be heard. Making the world better matters. Purpose creates leverage, but noble purpose creates legacy.”

Marcella Bremer: What do people struggle with the most, in your opinion?

m_one wayMike Henry: “We struggle with some things. Some struggle with a victim mindset, thinking they are unable to make a difference or that someone must give them permission. Others struggle with selfishness. In the absence of a noble purpose, they’ll just look out for themselves. Some struggle with comparison and think if they can’t do what so-and-so did, they can’t do anything. Some (including myself) struggle with lack of focus. We have too many options, and because we don’t focus, we don’t have the impact we could. But deep down inside of each one of us, we have another problem.

This problem is something we see in the world, and that keeps nagging us to do something about it. Because of my faith, I believe we were created to solve that particular problem which is different for each of us. We must put ourselves in the world and make ourselves available to solve that problem. As we live our lives solving it – we make our difference.”

The victim mindset is thinking you can't make a difference. Click To Tweet

Marcella Bremer: Do you know cases or examples of people who made a positive difference?

m_factsMike Henry: “Many of the Lead Change folks step into problems every day. They write blog posts and coach clients and serve non-profits. A friend is launching an interview series to focus on people who pulled themselves through difficult circumstances. Another friend wrote me that he was talking with a customer who is having trouble with their boss and he asked me for articles and ideas to help that person out. Dozens offer blogs and books and webinars. Many give away their content to help develop people rather than just to sell work. You publish a leadership and change blog.  Most examples are not very dramatic, but they count. Every single effort to help one person make a positive difference counts.”

Marcella Bremer: How’s that for you, Becky? What drives you in continuing the Lead Change Group?

m_beckyBecky Robinson: “I am inspired to continue the great work Mike created because I want to help each leader who contributes to the Lead Change Group site create a larger, more powerful impact for their writing and work. I want us each to be able to make a bigger difference with our ideas and influence. By continuing and refining the online presence of the Lead Change Group, we can reach more people with powerful, helpful learning that will empower people’s life and leadership.”

Marcella Bremer: Thank you, Mike and Becky! I think we all need to hear that positive message again from time to time. Sometimes organizational reality can look so grim that we start to doubt whether we make any positive difference at all. Let’s keep up the good work.

Further reading:
The Character-Based Leader https://www.amazon.com/The-Character-Based-Leader-Instigating-Revolution-One/dp/145751222X/

The Lead Change Group blog: leadchangegroup.com/

Please help me spread positivity by tweeting, liking, and commenting!

Marcella Bremer is an author and culture & change consultant. She co-founded this blog and ocai-online.com.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Patrick J. Banks, Ph.D.

    Simply put, if you need permission to make a difference, chances are very high you live in an environment where you CANNOT make a difference, no matter how brilliant and appropriate the difference would be.

    Contrary to popular mythology, empowerment is not awarded . . . empowerment is simply taken whenever in an environment that encourages contributions that make a difference. I teach people with leadership potential that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission (often, too many egos involved from those who would “grant” permission). I teach them that additionally, if you ask for permission, you run the risk of the permission “granter” saying no – so to act in spite of that would be seen as insubordination.

    So, if you have an idea that would make a difference, and you have tested the idea and ascertained that it would be a significant contribution, just do it. If the hammers of hell fall on you via retaliation or retribution, then walk away with your head high.

    1. Marcella Bremer

      We are definitely on the same page, Patrick! I love the example you share. Just do it. Make sure you make that difference – and you’ll pave the way for the others, too. Be courageous.

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