Posted on 29 March 2017

What’s your point of difference?

Like many out there, I regularly travel for work, and have most recently returned from a trip to New Zealand. This time, waiting for my checked baggage to arrive at the carousel – I experienced a sort of strange ‘déjà-vu’ moment – remembering a thought that had popped into my head the last time I had travelled overseas.


As I stood waiting to collect my suitcase, a voice popped into my head asking, “Why are there so many damn black suitcases? And which one is mine?!”


Sure there are a few variances, like little red ribbons tied to the handles, zips in odd places and differing sized wheels; but fundamentally, most of the suitcases on the carousel were all black and quite hard to differentiate!


I remembered feeling quite frustrated at this last time I checked my baggage – and kicked myself for not following through with my promise to buy myself bright, hot pink suitcase to stand out from the crowd!


Later, in the car on the way home, I reflected on how we as leaders can sometimes be just like the black suitcase. That few of us actually give much thought to how to differentiate ourselves – or give much thought to our ‘Unique Leadership Proposition’ (ULP).


For example, what makes you as a leader different from others, and what unique strengths do you bring to the table? In other words, what are your little ‘ribbons’ that make you stand out in a sea of black suitcases.


In that moment, I chose to reflect on myself as a leader, to see what personal insights came to mind about my own ‘ULP’:


1. I lead with a SMILE – I try to not take myself too seriously and recognise the value that comes from having a laugh either at myself, or to lighten the mood. I also recognise that emotions are contagious (“emotion contagion”) – and that if I mope around, what message would that send to others?


2. I am CURIOUS and instil curiosity in others – I believe in the value of continuously looking around corners, considering better ways and being a “positive challenger”. I like to ask questions to stimulate thinking and insights in others.


3. I CHALLENGE myself and others – I am committed to stretching myself, whether that be in learning new things or pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I believe that leaders are lifetime learners and I challenge others to continuously push back into the “conscious incompetence” stage of learning in order to grow and develop.


There was one other insight that came to mind, not as positive, which was the realisation that I could action my ideas a LOT quicker – given that I still haven’t bought myself a hot pink suitcase. But alas, my glass-half-full perspective reminds me that if I had – I wouldn’t have had the opportunity at the baggage carousel to take a moment to reflect and grow as a leader.


So ask yourself, when was the last time you reflected on your own ‘point of difference’? What is your special ULP?


I’d love to hear what your thoughts are – and how you share and live your ULP with others.


Posted by Mel Armstrong

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