12 Most Inspiring “I” Indicators of Great Leaders
“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Thanks for joining me in this “I” installment of the 12 Most ABC’s of Leadership series. To catch up on this series, you can read 12 Most Hearty “H” Hallmarks of Great Leaders. I will also make an effort to not use any of the adjectives I already included in the 12 Most “In Words” to be in Leadership.
Let’s get inspired, shall we?
Leaders enlighten their teams and ignite the possibilities. Be the leader that illuminates your organization!
Albert Einstein asserted that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Knowledge is an understanding of “what is” — imagination is an appreciation of what can be!
Great leaders are immeasurably important to organizations. They set the foundation for success. You can wait until the closing statements in this post to see why I think leaders should NOT be indispensable or irreplaceable, though!
The longer you are with an organization, the deeper you develop relationships. You will have a natural affinity for some team members, and others simply may not “click” with you. Guess what — every team member is a valuable contributor to the organization (remember, you already read the D’s of this series and pulled the Dexter routine).
Great leaders will remain impartial and will not play favorites when it comes to business decision-making.
Sometimes you just need somebody to rally the troops. We know 2008 was a terrible economic year, and the great leaders were rallying their troops even as they had to consider every cost-cutting option. Impassioned — and the next item on this list — seem to be polar opposites yet can be invaluable in strong leaders. The key is to strike a balance.
So we want impassioned leaders capable of rallying the troops, but we want them to be imperturbable also? YES! Leaders need to remain composed and unflappable. They balance stoking the fires for an organizational competitive edge, or to fight for the organization’s very survival, yet they control those same fires so they remain assets versus liabilities.
Bernard Montgomery was a British Field Marshal who stated “Discipline strengthens the mind so that it becomes impervious to the corroding influence of fear.” Great leaders maintain discipline with their thoughts and actions. That discipline enables them to make the tough decisions with no fear of the consequences. They will not make the perfect decision every time. However, these leaders rarely make the absolutely wrong decisions and understand the “varying shades of right” possibilities.
They are not paralyzed by fear or “analysis paralysis.”
Impressionable can have a bad connotation when we talk about our “impressionable youth” not having good role models. However, to be impressionable is to be perceptive, receptive and responsive. We want our leaders to be perceptive, but we also want them to be receptive to new ideas from the team. We also want them to respond within acceptable timeframes. A non-engaged leader can absolutely kill the morale of an organization.
Judith Marin had some great advice: “It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.” Be impressive with your actions and your leadership, and the kudos will take care of themselves!
Companies are composed of multiple organizations (sales, marketing, product development, customer service, operations, executive suite), and now you can add remote workforces and geographic diversity with dramatic cultural differences. A great leader is an integrative force that combines these disparate organizations and cultures and unites them to pursue common goals.
If you read the 12 Most Exemplary “E” Embodiments of Excellent Leaders, you know I place high value on ebullient leaders. Their irrepressible nature is a magnet for attracting and keeping company talent. Irrepressible leaders are also both malleable and adaptable. They are willing to adapt to changing economic conditions and consumer demands, and they fully embrace the “Adapt or Die” mentality.
I come from the software development world where project management has shifted from a “waterfall approach” to an “agile and iterative process.” Waterfall projects have a higher failure rate because they spend days/weeks/months on business requirements that require signatures in blood, and then months of development and testing before final delivery. I always equate the delivery stage to “flipping the switch and hoping everything works.” The problem with having such a huge lag time between the requirements and delivery phase is that you are often delivering a solution to an organization where the business requirements have already changed.
Doing smaller deliveries, based upon iterative feedback from the organization, has a much higher success rate because it keeps the organization engaged throughout the process. Iterative leaders also have higher success rates because they are constantly evaluating organizational/consumer/economic feedback. They then make necessary course adjustments to ensure that they successfully deliver the right solutions at the right time.
What is your greatest strength as a leader? When you review this list, which characteristic would you like to add to your leadership profile? Did you notice that irreplaceable and indispensable were not options? Great leaders should build strong organizations with realistic succession plans. Leaders should train their replacements with the goal of having their replacements exceed their own accomplishments.
Have you heard the expression “the ayes have it?” Well, here are 12 “I’s” to NOT have in your professional description: idiotic, illegal, imaginary (never around), imbecilic, immoral, impeachable, impolite, and irascible (cantankerous and surly), irrational, irrelevant, irritating, and isolated (a wise man has many counselors).
Featured image courtesy of bixentro licensed via Creative Commons.