Leadership Made Simple, Not Easy

In his book, Touching People’s Lives (SHRM Books, 2017), Michael Losey, past CEO and President of SHRM, describes leadership as the ability to influence others to work together towards achieving a specific vision or goal. Leadership skills, abilities and diversified experiences are required to:

  • Identify problems.
  • Generate and evaluate alternative solutions.
  • Determine the “best” solution.
  • Take actions to “mitigate” the disadvantages of the best solution.
  • Implement the decision.
  • Evaluate success of the solution and take corrective action, where necessary.

The above actions are required because of change- the most important aspect of leadership. Without change, leaders would not be needed. Change always happens, at different frequencies and impact and this is where leaders take charge to make things happen to address the changes. The execution of good leadership can be greatly enhanced with “The Five I’s.”

  1. Intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. People are born with this capacity; education and experience adds to this. The result is, ability to think and solve problems with information you have.
  2. Initiative: taking charge or doing something without being instructed. In a competitive environment, high-performing leaders are always trying to predict what will be required next versus awaiting instruction.
  3. Innovation: the capacity to offer new ideas and solutions that meet changing requirements.  Being innovative not only requires Intelligence and experience but also requires a discipline to be curious and willingness to challenge norms.
  4. Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. In difficult situations, when everything else fails, a reputation of fair dealing and honesty provides protection and in  the long term, this straightforwardness lends credibility to a leader.
  5. Interpersonal: Ability to communicate and maintain successful relations. Potential leaders can possess almost all of the “I’s,” but if they lack interpersonal skills to lead and work effectively with others, they probably will not be successful.

In addition to the above 5 skills, there is Perseverance. Sometimes a superior may ignore or reject a leader’s repeated attempts to pursue a cause. In this case a high-potential leader will not give up, rather will continue to advance this cause with sincerity and skillful effort, until it is accepted.  All of these characteristics, combined with sufficient effort, can create a great leader. However, the absence of significant effort will result in mediocrity, and successful leaders are everything but mediocre.


Losey, Michael R. “Leadership Made Simple, Not Easy.” SHRM, SHRM, 16 Aug. 2019, www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/leadership-made-simple-not-easy.aspx/.

– Written for LEADIN

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