The 8 C’s of Leadership

Being in a leadership role isn’t easy. If it were, you’d see more people stepping up and insisting on the opportunity. It seems that most prefer to follow rather than taking the risk of standing out and making mistakes. When one approaches leadership from the standpoint of ‘being’ instead of ‘acting’ or ‘doing'; then it changes the focus and the potential.

The 8 C’s of leadership are in no particular order because the order of importance will shift and change depending on what’s happening or the point of the cycle the leader is in at any one time. Just like life, leadership has cycles and is ever-changing. It’s not something that someone masters and that’s it as if there’s nothing more to learn. The world is constantly changing and we need to continually adapt. Having this understanding while being willing to learn, adapt and make mistakes takes a lot of pressure off, which allows the leader’s strength and true essence to come through.

  1. Character: This is where the leader determines the values, ethics and integrity that will underpin their leadership. The simplest way to describe this is a code of behavior. Anyone can talk a story, but the truth is always determined in the behavior. One leader I worked for always said he would rather err on the side of the employee or the customer. I watched over the course of 7 years as that leader held to his principles building a highly successful business and very loyal followers. Another leader I worked for told me his word was stronger than any contract. However after working almost double the agreed hours and performing services thatweren’t specified in the contract based on his direction, he refused to pay the promised bonus stating I hadn’t meet the criteria in the contract. Which leader would you want to emulate?
  2. Clarity: A major downfall of many leaders is the lack of clarity. Every leader would benefit from developing their intuition and knowing their internal ‘Yes” and “No”. “Maybe’s” really stink because they keep people stuck but meanwhile the world is changing. Copying what others are doing doesn’t work either. Having clarity on each aspect of one’s leadership, particularly the leadership purpose, is empowering and an energy booster. Clarity brings everything into alignment.
  3. Connection: Connecting with people is one of the most critical components of leadership. The more a leader knows how to inspire and connect with people, the greater the engagement and the more the company will increase morale, productivity and profits. These days, employees must feel a connection to the leader, their vision and mission. In building brand loyalty, it’s equally important for the customers to feel connection. A person in a leader role recently told someone that he wore gumshoes so that people wouldn’t know if he were around. He sat hidden in his office, afraid to do anything and lacked support from everyone around him.
  4. Communication: To share ideas and information, the leader must communicate. Typically it’s done through speaking or writing, but until the leader knows the message is received and understood, it hasn’t been fully communicated. Successful communications are 2-way. The message is sent and then it is received. Just sending without making certain that people are receiving the information is futile and leads to misunderstanding and potential problems. Today the modes of communications are much easier and faster, but still require us to know that we are being properly understood.
  5. Competence: As with each of these points, they can apply to the leader, to the organization, to its business/function, to the employees, etc. When examining competence, look at the competence of the organization to deliver on what it is that it does. Do you have competent people working for you? It’s not unusual to find ‘bad hires’ within organizations. A bad hire is never going to turn into being a good one and ignoring the situation actually de-motivates ‘good hires’. Some areas to look at when determining competence are:
    • Experience. There’s an old saying that states: Experience is life’s best teacher. There are many things that can’t be taught; it must be experienced. A neighbor of mine thought he was an expert on sales because he studied selling for 100s of hours and knew all the points. Then he went out to sell and failed miserably. Experience teaches problem-solving, people management and leadership skills that can be applied to everything.
    • Education. Does the person have the knowledge they require in order to do the job?
    • Skill Set. I’ve seen people promoted as a manager because they were doing an excellent job, but weren’t taught the necessary skills to manage. Determine what people need in terms of coaching, mentoring, training or further education to do their job competently.
    • Lifelong learning. Is the organization looking at how it can improve and update its knowledge and skills in its chosen field or industry? Is it leading or following? Then look at each person within the company and prepare a personal development plan. Set milestones and time frames.
  6. Courage: It takes courage to stand out as a leader. Each of your decisions will be scrutinized and some of them will be unpopular. It requires courage to believe in yourself; to take risks; to invest in people; to believe in others and allow them to prove themselves; to confront conflicts; to lead change and to stick to your path when things aren’t going well at the time. Having clarity will certainly help build courage.
  7. Commitment: Leadership is all about relationships and commitment sits at the core. People will want to see and feel the leader’s commitment. How the leader demonstrates commitment is the axis point for the passion, excitement and fun. The staff’s level of commitment will be deepened when they understand the reasons behind decisions.Commitment is very much a synergistic arrangement.
  8. Change: Change is constant and inevitable. There’s always resistance to change even when people know it must happen for growth so the effective leader is willing to lead, push and pull people through the change. The ineffective leader leaves them to figure it out. By embracing change and showing a willingness to learn, make mistakes and take corrective actions, the leader paves the way for growth.
  9. Great leaders don’t always have all the answers, but they are able to courageously lead people through times of change by communicating the new vision, with clarity and passion, gaining commitment and support of people both inside and outside the organization while connecting all the points and people for a smooth transition, and improving the competence through better hiring and great support.

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