Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are You a Difference Maker?

Make a difference about something other than yourselves. – Toni Morrison

In an interview with Open Forum (, Johnny Rocket’s CEO John Fuller offered some fascinating business insights. Fuller says that one of their guiding principles is to be a difference maker verses a care taker. He explained that he wants people to feel that they can influence the department they are running in a proactive way.  By this he means that if they are just a care taker and doing what someone else did before, or just doing the same thing, then they are not thinking and are not passionate about making it better.

Now in 32 states and 16 countries, this key concept among others is part of the formula for the success of Johnny Rockets. But make no mistake; the principles Fuller shares are not exclusive to the restaurant industry. Johnny Rockets is successful because the principles Fuller lays out are grounded squarely in smart leadership.

The strength of your organization or business will be determined by how well your team members carry out the same philosophy. Do you want your team members to be difference makers or care takers? When you embrace the difference maker philosophy it will change the culture of your organization.  Here are three reasons why it matters.

Difference makers go the extra-mile. Difference makers are not content to settle for mediocre service or performance. Difference makers have one goal in mind and that is to consistently deliver exceptional service without excuses.

The leadership characteristic that drives the difference maker here is passion. When your team members are passionate about delivering value, and when they care about the company’s reputation, then they will go the extra mile and see to it personally that excellence is never sacrificed.

Difference makers turn problems into possibilities. Be it the restaurant industry or any other service-based business, good customer service is the life blood of your operation.  How many potential possibilities are wasted every day because someone could not see past the problem or act to correct it?

The leadership skill in play here is empowerment. Think for a moment of the positive impact that can be made when team members are empowered to resolve problems and act in good faith on behalf of the organization.  Face it; we are human and we all make mistakes. Do not make matters worse by not empowering your team to do the right thing, the right way, and right now. When you empower your difference makers you are unleashing the power of leadership.

Difference makers are the future of your organization. When difference makers are trained and understand the vision and expectations of your organization it is the best long term investment you can make. People are the most appreciable asset you have in the operation of your business. When you invest in them they will deliver for you.

The leadership model here is legacy. Difference makers build your brand not just for the benefit of today but secure it for the future. When you commit to the expectation of team members being difference makers you send the message loud and clear – we are not here to be care takers.

Are you a difference maker?

© 2012 Doug Dickerson   

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