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Leadership at AI

Leadership at AI is about more than knowing the company’s products, processes, history, values and Employee Handbook. It’s about more than making money. It’s about more than “managing”. And if you are a manager at AI, it sure as hell isn’t about your title.

So what is it about? Well, this is a start of that answer – it’s a summary of our ‘first level’ of leadership training at AI. These principles have been gained through some good books, the ‘school of hard knocks, our study of other leaders we admire and our experiences with positive business.

We started focusing on leadership training with our “forum meetings” in 2011. Forum is intended as an open and confidential place to share the challenges and successes of leadership. We began by studying Lincoln on Leadership, meeting monthly to discuss it, and added annual in-person gatherings with all of our leaders. Along the way, we learned about our personality types, we improved our presentation skills, developed our hiring process, created our current vision and built relationships the help our organization grow and learn.

We summarize important books to make it easier for our leaders to consume them, and we regularly circulate other educational materials and ideas to help our leaders continue to hone their skills. Too often in the working world there isn’t adequate training for leaders. Heck, even most people with an MBA don’t have a lot of the real world leadership skills so needed in the office. Our hope is that we can instill years of hard learning into our leaders earlier, and urge them to pass it along to all new leaders.

And leadership at AI isn’t for a select few – it isn’t just for those that are organizationally responsible for others. It’s intended for all – our vision is to have 100% of our colleagues trained in leadership and acting as leaders in our organization and in life. Our hope is that we have a culture where we are all responsible for each other, and that is the core of good leadership. To support that offer the same training that we provide our leaders for anyone that is interested in learning.

One of the important functions of our leadership forum is to discuss and debate leadership techniques – what works and what doesn’t. The forum is a continuous learning opportunity so every leader is encouraged to bring up new materials and influences to help the group improve. After all, we never know where our next great leadership lessons will come from.

Foundational Leadership at AI:

  • Be a servant leader (“The Power of Servant Leadership” by Robert K. Greenleaf)
  • Focus on strengths (“First, Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman)
  • Care for & motivate your people (“9 Minutes on Monday” by Robbins, “Drive” by Pink)
  • Develop owners (“Ownership Thinking” by Brad Hams)
  • Lead positively with values (“True to Yourself” by Mark Albion)

These concepts are woven together with our values – one leads to another, that one ties to this one. This isn’t just one book, or one experience, or the flavor of the day. It’s backed by research, data and experience. It’s not complete or perfect, but it is a good foundation to build on.