I studied a few effective leaders: the University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt; businessman and philanthropist, John Huntsman, Sr.; and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America.
It became clear, very quickly, that they may have affected different fields, but they shared some important traits. They all had ZIP:
Let’s break down what it means to have ZIP.
DON’T TELL… SHOW
If you passed a television set during basketball season any time from the 1980s until a few years ago, you probably saw Pat Summitt pacing the sidelines like a general, just as into the battle as her players.
It was hard to miss Coach Summitt’s passion for the game. She was ALL IN, and her eagerness was contagious. She set the bar, and made everyone else feel brave enough to rise to he level.
I mean, her last name… Summit. Apex. Top.
Coach Summitt’s influence wouldn’t have reached beyond the game if she wasn’t full of zeal, enthusiasm, zest. Her wisdom and example translate to personal performance, work, sports, etc.
NOTHING—AT LAST—IS SACRED, BUT THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR OWN MIND
Leaders know that honesty and integrity are the foundations of leadership. Leaders stand up for what they believe in.
Jon Huntsman, Sr. started a chemical company from scratch and grew it into a $12 billion enterprise. Huntsman says that integrity is the reason he has been so successful:
“There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business or life. There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”
There are many examples of temporary winners who won by cheating. For a number of years, Enron was cited as one of America’s most innovative companies. The CEO of the company knew the most important people in the country, including President George Bush. However, Enron’s success was built on lies, and the “winners” who headed the company are case studies in lack of integrity.
Leaders with integrity may not be the most famous or flashy of leaders, and they don’t care. Integrity means doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. And that’s what makes success.
Through the organization she founded, Wendy Kopp is having a profound influence on American public schools.
Teach for America, has directed the talents of high-achieving college graduates into underserved classrooms.
As with any educational enterprise, there have been setbacks and resistance, but what cannot be doubted is that the experience of serving in Teach for America informs and empowers young people who will carry their experiences into their futures. That effect alone ensures enduring influence.
The principles of success come in many forms, but what works can’t stay hidden for long.