Why you? Why now? What makes you relevant?
Options are everywhere and being good is the minimum expectation. Why should I pay attention to you rather than hit the “Next” button?
Unfortunately, the answers most of us give are wrong.
Your company’s products, service offerings, work processes and compensation plans are not significantly different than those of your competitor. The words written on flip charts during your strategic planning sessions are not significantly different than those written by others. Chances are good that your “proprietary” approaches are often industry best practices re-languaged for your use.
The same is true for departments, work groups and individuals. Your company doesn’t hire all the geniuses and leave everyone else with simply average people. You aren’t the only organization using the latest technology and work processes, while others operate as if it is 1986.
The difference between the great and the merely good is leadership. It has nothing to do with position and everything to do with your ability to influence others.
Leadership is the engine that creates and sustains a vibrant, nimble culture. It is the vehicle for earning trust and credibility with customers, colleagues and co-workers. It is the voice that challenges others to acknowledge reality and inspires everyone to look forward to ensure relevancy in a constantly changing future.
Five C’s of Great Leadership
The principles of great leadership apply if you are an organization aspiring to influence your marketplace or an individual who wants to influence your company or team. They are timeless in their relevance and require continual improvement in their application. Mastering these five areas will place you firmly on the path to success.
- Character: The pattern of your behavior and moral constitution define your approach to dealing with yourself and others. Leaders with strong character make decisions based on what’s right, rather than who’s right. They share credit rather than steal it, and they take responsibility. They don’t throw others under the bus or take advantage for the lure of expediency.
- Competence: The most effective leaders never assume that today’s excellence will suffice tomorrow. They continually expand their knowledge and ability. Most important, they translate competence into performance that adds value. Never underestimate the credibility that comes from continued competence in a world where mediocrity is everywhere.
- Communication: Mastering the delivery of your message is more important than ever to be heard in a world where everyone is inundated with information. Managing the message is not enough, however. Leaders earn credibility when they combine effective presentation with openness, transparency and a sincere desire to understand. They build trust when they willingly share appropriate information, listen and accept ideas, and identify with the struggles, joys and aspirations of those they seek to influence.
- Consistency: Consistency creates confidence that allows others to predict your performance and response. Consistency alone will not make you an effective leader – as a person or an organization. But combine it with character, competence and communication and you begin to build a track record for reliability in good times and bad. Consistency frees others from worrying about protecting themselves. Most important, it marks the difference between occasional brilliance and repeated excellence.
- Courage: Leadership in an increasingly demanding world requires courage. Barriers must be confronted. Risks must be taken. Business as usual must be routinely and systematically challenged. New ideas must be encouraged, protected, and developed. Every great innovation began as an idea that challenged conventional wisdom or extended prevailing thought to a place where someone was uncomfortable. Ineffective leaders shrink in the face of adversity. Courageous leaders strike out boldly in search of new solutions. They never allow their love of the status quo to inhibit their ability to adapt and change.
Every challenge you face can be more successfully addressed with effective leadership. It is the intangible leverage that enables you to stand out from your competitors. It creates the environment where customers experience added value and reward it with their business. It guides decision making to focus on what’s right. It creates and sustains an environment where everyone is engaged and committed to focused execution. Isn’t it time that you took action today to guarantee your success tomorrow?
Randy Pennington is a business performance expert, award-winning author and speaker, and leading authority on leadership, culture, and change. Through his engaging articles, books, and presentations, Randy teaches companies and associations how to make change work within their organization; achieve positive results; effectively lead through transformation efforts; and build a strong organizational culture to safeguard success.