Our work with great leaders over the past two decades has taught us that all truly great leaders exemplify ten “must have’” characteristics that enable them to exceed strategic goals, build strong teamwork, foster innovation, and engage their workforce at a higher level. The best employees choose to work for these leaders and will follow them anywhere.
The most effective leaders live and lead with the following extraordinary leadership qualities and behaviors. Do You? As you read through the 10 C’s of leadership, rate yourself and/or your leadership team on each quality using a scale of 1 – 5, where 1 is least like me or our team, and 5 is very much like me or our team. Identify your lowest-rated competencies, and take action to strengthen your areas for improvement.
Commitment – An uncommon devotion, passion, and loyalty to the vision of the organization and the value its products or services bring to customers. Leaders with a high level of commitment are willing to go above and beyond ordinary expectations of performance, time, and energy to realize the vision and bring forth success.
Conviction – A firm belief in one’s personal and organizational values and the willingness to take a stand on the rightness of one’s position. Leaders who lead with conviction confidently communicate their personal and organizational beliefs and are able to inspire others to do the same.
Character – Living day in and day out with the highest level of ethical behavior in what one says and does, and the decisions one makes. Whether they are alone or under the watchful eye of others, exceptional leaders operate with unquestionable integrity. They are honest to a fault, trustworthy in all they say and do, and can be depended on to complete everything to which they make a commitment.
Competence – The knowledge, understanding, and skill to effectively carry out the responsibilities of one’s position. Highly effective leaders execute their job with extreme proficiency and possess the wisdom to seek advice and answers when they lack a necessary competency or insight.
Confidence – The self-assurance to assert ideas and take action to bring goals and aspirations to fruition in the midst of varying perspectives. Confident leaders have the humility to take risks and admit failure. These leaders do not confuse confidence with pride and arrogance which indicates they perceive their own abilities and ideas are better than everyone else’s.
Courage – The capacity to make difficult decisions in the best interest of the organization and its employees and customers – even in the face of resistance. Courageous leaders are determined to confront difficult circumstances and performance problems (with kindness and humility), and have the fortitude to have tough, unpopular conversations.
Care – Genuine concern for the well-being of those within one’s sphere of influence. Caring leaders have the best interest of others at heart, serve the needs of others before their own, and intentionally work to support the growth, development, and success of others. Great leaders recognize the contributions of those around them.
Compassion – The inherent ability to empathize with the challenges and misfortunes of others, and the desire to help and alleviate their hardship or suffering. Extraordinary leaders believe in the value of helping team members balance work and life, and they know when to put people before profit.
Communication – The best employees seek to work with leaders that keep them informed on matters that affect their ability to contribute to the success of the organization. Great leaders know that one of the most important motivators for employees is the feeling of being in on things and the freedom to express their own ideas and point of view. Top performing leaders invite and listen to the input of others.
Connectedness – A focus on “us.” Leaders that people want to follow know that creating a sense of belonging among employees is critical to motivation, engagement, productivity, and dedication. In the March/April 2017 issue of Scientific American Mind, the authors researched the group psychology principles behind Donald Trump’s ascendance to the presidency. Regardless of who you voted for, there is a valuable lesson to be learned – “leadership is about individuals as group members – whose success hinges on their capacity to create, represent, advance and embed a shared sense of ‘us.’”
How did you score on the 10 C’s of Great Leaders? In which areas did you our your team score lower? Create an action plan to address your lower rated areas and begin today to take your organization to an even higher level of productivity, innovation, and engagement.