The 7 i’s to Making Great Leaders: Part II

by David Olson

Last issue we began unpacking the 7 “I’s” formula for Making Great Leaders.  We dove into the first three attributes; Intuition, Initiative and Influence.  Becoming a great leader comes from understanding what character traits further develop and grow into.  It will not happen overnight, it is a life journey that never ends.  As you digest this formula and develop goals to achieve it, you will shift your insights and your ability to be successful in changing your environment.  So here we go, part II of the equation to becoming a great leader.

4 Integrity* the quality of always behaving according to the moral principles that you believe in, so that people respect and trust you

Leaders need to strive for lives worth imitating, not perfect lives, but one that is marked by humility, which means we accept and own our mistakes.  However, in this 7 “I”s formula, I am suggesting that Organizational Leaders need Organizational Integrity.  Organizational Integrity is the foundation for trust, and trust is one of the greatest motivators for team growth.  Leaders with Organizational Integrity live out the organization’s values with their words and actions.  They act in a manner they want the rest of the team to emulate.  Leaders with high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) understand that one of the most powerful motivators to inspire followers is building trust, confidence and respect through living with Organization Integrity.  Unfortunately, I have witnessed too many good organizations deteriorate and lose tremendous impact and money because the leader chose a life deficient of Organizational Integrity, and had nothing to do with personal integrity.  This is by far the biggest culture killer, and when your culture goes, the handwriting is on the wall.

5 Investment* the amount of time, energy, or emotion needed in order to make something successful

The kind of Investment that makes great leaders is not financial.  Yes, there is a financial variable related to investing in fair compensation for employees, but that is just a tactical necessity to retain good employees.  From Dr. Bob Nelson’s research with Dr. Peter Drucker, and highlighted in the The New York Times bestselling book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, the number one engagement category to improve job satisfaction is providing employees with Information, Involvement, and Support.  When leaders share information and include employees, when they involve employees in decision-making, and when they support employee’s activities to help them be successful and encourage them through mistakes; a leader is making an Investment in them.  This is what team members want most – to be Invested in with actions.

6 Innovation* the act of starting something for the first time; introducing something new

Great organizations Innovate.  Whether your organization is a non-profit or a technology company, Innovation is the critical attribute for sustainable long-term growth.  It means that leadership dreams, embraces, and acts as a catalyst to implement any and all business practices better.  Horst Schulze, founder of the Ritz Carlton hotel brand, shared at a conference I attended that the top three factors for their success were (1) luck, (2) process improvement, and (3) luck.  His point was that as an organization, they need to continue to identify ways to run their business better – to be Innovative in their approach to delivering world class service.  He modeled this from the top, shared this value with every new employee, and had mechanisms in place to reward Innovation.  Even if a leader is not naturally Innovative in their personality, they can and must instill this attribute into the culture around them.

Now that we’ve walked through the first six I’s of Making Great Leaders; Intuition, Initiative, Influence, Integrity, Investment, and Innovation, what is the final “I” of the formula?

7 Impact* an unreduced or unbroken completeness or totality

Ultimately great leaders are driven by a selfless motivation to impact their surroundings to improve them.  The impact cannot be solely focused on their own gain, but on the betterment of their company, the people they are surrounded by, and the community they reside in.  It requires a steadfast intention and desire to think of others first and to improve those lives.  It is not natural for any of us to rise to this level of thinking, so it requires an internal gut check and commitment to live beyond ourselves – to live for others and make a difference.  When this is your primary aim, then you are ready – finish the formula and become great!

* Macmillan Dictionary and WordNet

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