The Five I’s of Great Leaders

Rajan Chopra Coaching Bobby Chopra
What makes a great business leader?

A simple open-ended question that’s triggered many a debate and generated thousands of studies, papers, articles, books and training courses by thought leaders across the globe.  The answer though is not that simple.  Because a one-size-fit-all leadership methodology does not apply or work in all situations.


Because it’s about people.  And peoples’ thinking, attitudes, habits, life styles and cultures are in a constant state of change.  In order to succeed, organizations have to innovate and re-organize to adapt to their changing echo systems.  Great leadership therefore, by definition, has to be customized to the environmental systems in play not only in the present time but also be adaptive to innovation and change in the future.

What is leadership, anyway?

One of the best definitions of leadership, as distinct from management, that I have read:

Management is about making people do what they don’t want to. Leadership is about inspiring people to do what they think they can’t.Unknown (my apologies to the author)

There, in a word, leadership is about inspiring people.

Over the decades, some of the world’s greatest thinkers, researchers and business leaders have put forth their findings as to the different leadership styles and attributes of effective leaders.  While leadership styles may shift from time to time and situation to situation, the attributes critical to great leadership are found in what I call the Five I’s.


Yes, integrity at all times and not only when it’s convenient.  Honest. Trustworthy.  Reliable.  Committed. Humble. Courageous.


Strategic thinker. Rational. Confident. Analytical. Aware of self-limitations. Good judgement.


Knowledge. Experience. Wisdom. Ability to learn from mistakes.


Expansive vision. Open minded. Forward looking. Ability to think outside conventional wisdom.


Ability to motivate and inspire others.  High Emotional Intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy and motivation.

The Five I’s wrapped in the Big C as in Communication – the ability to listen deeply and communicate directly – are the quintessential ingredients for the recipe of making Great leaders. Simply, simply it’s about inspiring people!

Written by Rajan Chopra