“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team mates and customers.”— Robin S. Sharma
While we may be able to make a list a mile long of factors that play a role in effective leadership, you will be well on your way if you can nail down the four I’s of leadership; inspiration, influence, innovation, and impact. These are key factors that will determine your ability to be effective in any other aspect of leadership. Leadership isn’t about ideas; it’s about making things happen. Focus your attention and energy on the four I’s of leadership and watch what happens.
John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” A leader inspires and motivates colleagues. They can spark the passion and creativity that encourages others to accomplish amazing things. Inspiration is the beginning of everything else; seek it at every turn and in every corner. Use your inspiration to pursue something you believe in; use it to make things happen and to inspire greatness in others. Let your inspiration be the spark that lights a wild fire.
John Hancock explained, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” Influence is how you get things done as a leader. In order to influence others you must build trusting relationships and show genuine concern on an individual level. Be a role model of accountability, perseverance, and courage. Be respectful in all of your interactions. Earnestly motivate your employees to accomplish noteworthy tasks and provide recognition rather than seek it. Become a good listener, then follow through and follow up. Share your wisdom and be transparent in your words and actions. When you become someone who employees look up to, you will have the influence you need to lead.
William Pollard believed, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success it to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” Where will your success come from tomorrow? As a leader, you must focus your resources on challenging the status quo and helping others innovate. Reach across your organization for new and innovative ideas; fresh perspectives inspire fresh thinking. Leverage the disruptive opinions and opposing points of view you find in your organization to generate great ideas and question deeply held beliefs and assumptions. Provide a safe environment where employees can experiment and fail, then learn from that failure. Remember, innovation is never an end; it’s only a step in a continual process.
Sean Parker tells us, “I definitely wanted to earn my freedom. But the primary motivation wasn’t making money, but making an impact.” Ultimately, leadership is about getting results. Your leadership is not about you, it’s about creating a culture of accomplishment. It’s about making an impact by interweaving connections, challenges, and creative situations. Recognize that your leadership will have an impact, whether good or bad, on everyone who interacts with your organization. Leadership is about people; awaken in others the belief that they can accomplish extraordinary things and make them feel valued. And then, cultivate leadership in others; leave a legacy of impacting future leaders in such a positive way that they, in turn, will have the same impact on others.
According to Lao Tzu, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” As a leader, your value will be determined, in part, by the four I’s of leadership. Are you an inspiration? Are you able to really influence others? Do you encourage innovation by dedicating time, support, and resources? And, are you making a positive impact? Four simple I’s that, if used correctly, will lift your employees and your leadership.
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