Mike Henry, Sr.
President and Founder
Lead Change Group

Mike walks the walk and talks the talk for an inspiring Lead BIG story!

Welcome to Get Your BIG On, Mike. Please share some information with us about your background and how you learned to lead big.

I've spent a lot of time in middle management, starting out in sales and then moving into administration, operations, technology and marketing. I graduated from the University of Memphis. Most of my leadership training has been self-taught or employer-provided. Plus, I learned many lessons from co-workers over the years, too.

Your organization, Lead Change Group, has generated quite a following on social media. What does the Lead Change Group do?

We promote what we call character-based leadership, which is leading from who you are rather than from your position of power. Lead Change promotes people-centered, values-based leadership, and do so by encouraging people to help one another. It's a peer-based community as opposed to one in which there are a few people telling everyone else what to think. As we learn, we share. And, as we share, we learn. We're all capable of talking on the leadership topic, yet we're all willing to listen to others and collaborate so we can sharpen our own thoughts and skills.

Why do you think the principles of the Lead Change Group have resonated with so many people?

I think the reason why we've built the community we have is because there are a number of people all over the globe who are passionate to increase their impact and make a positive difference. We don't just want to talk about leadership; we want to apply a particular style of leadership to make our world better. And I believe that resonates because of a movement in the hearts and minds of people for over 20 years. Since the 80's and early 90's, we've been rejecting hierarchical structures. The rise of the Internet, freelance workers and free agents has been going on for a number of years, coinciding with the decline of the industrial age in the West. People all over the globe want to be their best, and they don't want to wait for some boss somewhere to give them permission.

What's the single most important thing you'd like to see the Lead Change Group accomplish?

That would be building a network of local organizations all over the globe that are actively changing their own communities, mobilizing character-based leaders in their area, as well as applauding and promoting the organizations which demonstrate character-based, authentic leadership. For the world to experience the Lead Change movement, we need to pull together and make it visible locally. We need to promote local businesses and organizations so the world will see this movement is already underway. It doesn't look like a movement because the big-name authors can't find enough new globally visible organizations. Every day we need to promote the 100-employee companies, wherever they may be, that demonstrate this type of organic leadership.

What one thing would you like to change about leadership?

I'd like to kill the notion that leaders aren't leaders unless someone is following them. We need people who will stand for something and never look back. If you stand for something, I'll collaborate with you; I'll join with you; I'll work with you. I don't "become" a follower. I'm still the same leader I've always been. A leader is who I am on the inside. Position influences impact, but it's not the only factor. If I'm a leader on the inside, I collaborate, serve, and contribute. I don't follow. I partner with other leaders rather than recruiting followers. It's a different game.

Can you share a personal leadership success story with us?

A number of years ago, I went to work for an organization that had just been purchased. The company was intact - still being run by the same people - but the new owner hired me to work with the company. The local people all thought I was a spy. In fact, my first office was a shared office locked out of the main headquarters area. I didn't even have access to a printer.Over the course of 17 months, I earned a lot of confidence and respect. We created a new product and landed some of the company's largest customers. We implemented three private-label branded programs with customers that were all considerably larger than we were.

I learned how to pay attention to people and how to make friends. When I left the company, I was a trusted employee with a number of successes and 40 good friends, many of whom thought I was the enemy just a few months earlier. I learned how to influence others and work for them as well as the power of serving the greater good. I didn't just serve the organization, I also served the people in it and earned their trust and respect.

For people who want to know more about you, your services or the Lead Change Group, what's the best way for them to contact you?

People can reach me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 918.401.0011.


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