Leaders never stop learning. True leaders are always eager to improve themselves and everything they do. If there’s a way to increase our leadership quotient and lead others better, we’re in!
From time to time, a great book appears in the marketplace that makes sense and speaks to the needs of leaders. Andy Stanley’s book, The Next Generation Leader offers some great gems for leaders. His book is a short, practical book on the essentials of leadership that any leader can gain from. This week’s blog contains a very condensed version of that book.
I’m not sure whether the 5 Cs of Leadership are simply profound, or profoundly simple! But they provide a fresh look at leadership that I hope you find as worthwhile as I did.
The 5 Cs of Leadership:
1. Competence. The core essential of this characteristic is to focus only on those things in which you are competent. One of the greatest pitfalls of leadership is to allow ourselves to get drawn into things outside our areas of competency. Many make the mistake of thinking that a good leader should be good at everything. “Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.” – Andy Stanley
Figure out quickly what your “A” competencies are and excel at those. If in doubt, ask others what you excel at. Then do what only you can do, and delegate everything else. You’re still responsible for those delegated competencies, but you don’t have to be the one to carry them out.
This reveals one leadership competency that is universal. Every leader must be able to rally others around them and move them collectively toward a vision. A leader cannot possibly do everything him/herself. We need others. This means raising up other leaders as well. Leaders attract and develop other leaders. This is a core competency of leadership.
2. Courage. One of the chief ways that leaders exhibit courage is by challenging the status quo. Leaders love progress and progress only occurs when we challenge what is currently accepted. And when we challenge the status quo, there’s always resistance!
People, organizations and processes seek stability. But stability defies change. The leader may not be the first one to see a better way, but he or she is the first to step out in front to lead the way. That takes guts, and it establishes the leader. Also, courage is not the absence of fear, but the resolve to act despite one’s fears.
Fear can cripple and keeps most people from taking action. The leader knows that progress requires risk, and risk takes courage. Risk may also mean failure, but the leader fears inactivity even more than they fear failure.
3. Clarity. Because the leader is always pressing into new territory, uncertainty is an ever-present reality. Jim Kouzes, in The Leadership Challenge, explains, “Uncertainty creates the necessary condition for leadership.” Therefore, the more uncertainty exists, the greater the need for leadership. And the greater the responsibility you assume as a leader, the more uncertainty you will have to manage.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. He was able to give clarity to that dream in such a way that he rallied millions behind him. As leaders, it is vital that we are crystal clear about our vision, mission and expectations of others.
People will follow a leader even when the leader is wrong. But they will not follow a leader who is unclear.
4. Coaching. Andy Stanley’s own words are so powerful on this point that I’ll simply quote him. “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input, you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when somebody is watching and evaluating.” (p. 104)
You can go farther and faster with someone coaching you than you can on your own. Also, an effective coach does not need to possess more or better skills than the person they are coaching. When we limit ourselves to self-evaluation, we simply compare ourselves with where we’ve been or against others. But a coach evaluates our skills based on our potential and that is something entirely different.
A good coach doesn’t tell the leader what to do but draws answers out of the leader that the leader would not otherwise come to. The bottom line is, find a good coach.
5. Character. While it is possible to lead without character, no leader without character is worth following. Character is the moral foundation that makes a leader worthy of followers. Even though we led into this discussion with competency, competency without character can be used for evil and nefarious purposes.
Compromise is the killer of character. Someone with integrity will do what’s right even when it hurts. Every leader’s character will be tested at some time or another and probably more than once. Be aware that your competency may be able to take you places beyond what your character can sustain. So, character is something you must forge into the metal of your being before that test comes.
As a fellow leader, I encourage you to continue to develop and cling to these 5 Cs of leadership. In fact, which one of the five Cs needs the most immediate attention in your life? What will you do to follow-through? Share your plan and thoughts in the comments.