I recently attended a leadership coaching session hosted by the President of American Express, Al Kelly. With many years experience as an executive at The White House, Pepsi and now American Express, he shared some great insights into what it takes to be a standout leader in the business world today. These are his 10 C’s of leadership.
The first 5 C’s are focused on becoming a Leader
1) Comfort –understand your strengths and weaknesses and then be comfortable hiring people smarter than yourself to fill the gaps.
2) Character –good moral values, doing what’s right and acting with integrity. Be aware of the culture you are creating (i.e. Enron).
3) Confidence –this is about channeling your ability in a focused way and taking measured risks necessary to drive an organization forward and reach an end objective. However overconfidence can breed arrogance and make people take stupid risks like Evil Knievel. Thus self-awareness is important since companies need leaders not cowboys.
4) Composure –being aware of your energy, mood and feelings and how that energy can influence the people around you. You need to demonstrate consistency in behaviour all the time because you don’t want your team thinking to themselves “which person is going to show up to the office today?”
5) Courage –leaders have to make tough decisions using a mix of data, facts, experience and intuition. You must show good judgment in your decisions. You must have the courage to make a vital decisions when there is no playbook and to stand-up for what’s right.
The next 5 C’s are focused on being a Leader
6) Caring –the people that work for us are our greatest asset so it pays dividends to spend time with them, listen to their problems, and understand their situation, background and lives. Build good relationships inside and outside of work.
7) Communication –these are opportunity situations where you can shine but your written and verbal communication must be clear on the intent, consistent and ‘on brand’ every time. Try to match your communication to the situation (i.e. a company reorganization might require a town hall style meeting, while quarterly updates could be done via email memo). To earn the respect of people be clear on how the communication will affect them.
8) Coaching –a good leader invests in people through coaching, mentoring, facilitating and guiding.
9) Curiosity –invest in constant learning and updating your skills, plan ahead and ask really good questions that push your thinking and the thinking of those around you.
10) Conviction –commitment once you make a decision has been made and staying the course. You must be a cheerleader for the company strategy, the products and people who work there.
Good leaders continue to learn and develop their skills, while being self-aware about the decisions they can control and the impact of those decisions on people’s lives who work for them. While there are other C’s (co-operation, compassion, etc) the 10 C’s above can be hardwired into a leaders DNA to earn followership and deliver results.