By Published On: 1-Jan-20204.9 min read
Rocket Fuel Leadership arrow diagram

It’s possibly not “The System” that’s beating you,  if making your mark is a struggle, suggests Leadership & Performance Coach, Davina Greene.

Have you ever been the person who arrives frustratedly into December proclaiming “Oh wow, another year gone. I didn’t do anything I said I’d do”?  Are you about to be that person again? During that period of inevitable “Finish strong!” messaging, it might be a good time to reflect and learn, rather than become a bit miserable – which, as a last-minute bonus, may serve as an achievement in itself.

Making Your Mark as a Human

Where to start? I suggest my “Core 5” high-level traits, which are valuable in reviewing performance across all areas of life, including Management and Leadership.

First, Responsibility. You need to truly own your intentions. Why haven’t you made your mark in the way you wanted this year? Are your goals merely decorative, derived from a perceived obligation to ‘join in’ with the goal-setting masses? Are you still sacrificing yourself to the needs of others? Did you set check-in points during the year? In short: what’s the excuse this year? Name it, then kill it.

Secondly, Resilience. Someone who is talking excitedly to another human about wanting to make their mark on something clearly has a healthy little hamster running around in the great wheel of their brain. However, you’ll bore even yourself if you’re ‘all talk no action’ – be that due to self-doubt, fear of asking for help, potential rejection, or whatever else may hold you back. So do a Resilience health-check. When you take a hit, does it stay with you for a while? How can you keep that in check – and, indeed, step up to potential disappointment if you’ve been holding back until now?

5 key leadership traits groupings

Next, Perspective. Are you swamping yourself with goals? An idea is not a goal. An idea could become a ‘goal for now’, but it could also become a ‘goal for later’ – be clear which it should be. Are you mixing up “nice-to-haves” and “must-haves”, missing all sense of priority? Furthermore, how realistic are you being about the timeframe for each goal? If your expectations are all wrong, that goal that could help you in making your mark – and therefore, your overall goal of making your mark – is already failing. List goals, categorize them, compare them, count them – essentially, check if you’re giving yourself any chance at all.

Then, Humanity.  How much are you thinking about other people when you construct your plans? (If you say you want to ‘make your mark’, I’m assuming you mean that in a positive way!) Even if your intent is definitely positive, make sure that your follow-through is strong enough that that’s what people actually feel from you. If your plans involve making your mark by barging forward, elbowing people out of the way, or simply ignoring them, then you’re likely to drive support away. Be emotionally intelligent.

Finally, Communication: nobody succeeds in making their mark by staying completely silent and keeping all the information, discoveries and ideas to themselves. That’s not to say you must push yourself to be an extrovert. And the thought of putting any online communication in place can be terrifying, as it’s such an open market where even the most clueless or disinterested people feel the right to comment, often carelessly. Think what would work best, think what you’d be comfortable with, and find the happy medium if you perceive a current mismatch.

Making Your Mark as an Inspiration

Rocket Fuel's Organizational Leadership Model

“Leadership Building Blocks” Model


Once those traits are under active observation and improvement, you’re well on your way to mastering the building blocks of Self-Knowledge and Interpersonal Skills, as you apply reflections and tweaks to yourself and your team.

After that, you’re into Vision. Those who stand out will be those who really “get it”, and if you “get it” you can usually see what’s not working and think of a way to improve it. If you can express such thoughts well, then you’re likely to get some attention.

And what do we call that attention? An audience. Followers. Just what a leader needs!

So if you manage to work on the magic combination of behaviors and vision, and come across as a humane citizen who can inspire people to travel with them along that path, hey presto, you’re a leader! But, rest assured, take your eye off any of those balls and you could be right back to square one again. There are plenty of other people seeking the attention of your audience, so nurture it.

There’s a simple logic involved, but there is indeed much work and experience involved in mastering that logic.


Both people skills and practical skills are needed for convincing, credible leadership.

If standing out, contributing, a sense of legacy or some other driver makes you crave tangible impact on the world (or a portion of it), that’s wonderful – but don’t expect it to always be easy. “Just say it and it will happen” isn’t a thing. If you want to look over your shoulder and see the marks you’ve made on the world glistening behind you, you could wait for the stars to align, but sometimes you need to nudge them into place. So, reflect. And then start nudging.

In short: Think, fix, move on, repeat – making your mark should be a joy, but it still takes focus and discipline. Remember, if you can’t keep enough focus on this to achieve your ambition of making your mark as a leader, coaching could be the perfect solution.


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About the Author

Davina Greene, leadership and performance coach

Davina Greene has a Masters in business from Dublin City University, is a Leadership & Performance Coach, and a corporate Head of Leadership Coaching, providing in-person and digital solutions for individuals and organisations.

Connect with her