The 5 Cs: 5 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership
Want to be a stronger leader? Build a stronger team on these five principles.
- How clear and communicative are you as a leader?
- What is your leadership style?
- Do you practice what you preach?
- Do you keep the promises you make?
1. CollaborateIt may be satisfying to be able to complete a project on your own. However, those who try to juggle a considerable amount of work by themselves often result in failure. Competent leaders understand the importance of working with a team to complete tasks both large and small. To encourage collaboration among your team, you should be able to delegate. Having work completed by other members of your team doesn’t mean getting items off your own plate. You will likely need to look over the finished product, after all. Instead, collaboration can vastly improve the quality of the product your team is creating. You know what they say: “Two heads are better than one.”
2. CommunicateStrong leaders should motivate and instruct the people on their teams. If they are not skilled communicators, they may have trouble getting messages across to their teams. When speaking with your employees or delegating tasks, be sure to give them clear direction. You should always be willing to answer questions that may arise if the employees are having trouble comprehending complex instructions. Make time to meet with your staff to speak with them and check on their progress to ensure success.
3. (Be) CandidBeing honest sounds fundamental to being a great leader, yet many people often hold back what they’d really like to say to avoid hurting someone’s feeling. Instead of helping the problem, this can hurt it. When important statements go unsaid, no one on the team can learn from their mistakes. This will cause them to make the same mistakes over and over, not knowing that what they are doing is incorrect. When correcting employees’ mistakes, you need to figure out a way to approach the issue in a constructive – not harsh – way. Approach the critiques as a form of self-improvement, coaching rather than correcting.
4. ConnectedEffective leaders understand the value of feedback, on both the giving and receiving end. As managers, we likely have information to share with our employees about their individual performances. Provide regular check-ins with employees to measure their success. A quarterly one-on-one isn’t enough to keep your team on track. Meet individually with your staff members consistently to reinforce their hard work, provide feedback on areas in which they can improve and explain both short- and long-term goals for team metrics. It is just as important to encourage your employees to offer you feedback as it is to lend it to them. When your employees are encouraged to express their opinion, they feel that their voices are important and their ideas are valued. When employees feel useful, they are more likely to stay engaged. Make sure to listen to the feedback you receive and follow through with their requests and suggestions. Getting criticism can be difficult, but make sure you stay off the defensive and thank your employee for their honesty.
5. CareExceptional leaders are empathetic, caring for their staff members, not just the work they do. Employees want to feel valued. Make sure you ask them about their life. What do they enjoy? How is their family doing? Did they find time to relax on their recent vacation? Work isn’t everything, and employees feel a sense of loyalty when their leader cares about them as a person, not just as a workhorse.
Invoking Change in Your OrganizationGreat leaders typically attribute their success to the strong individuals on their teams. Look to the people who work with you and for you. When they respect their leader and feel that their voice is valuable to the organization, they are likely to feel engaged in their work. As leaders, we are only as good as our people. Forging strong relationships with our teams pays off in corporate morale as well as overall performance. Use the five Cs every day and you may notice an improvement in attitudes and results among your team members.
6 Pitfalls of a Lack of Accountability in the Workplace - and How to Fix Them
1. Low MoraleLow morale can manifest a lack of accountability in a variety of ways, but tends to stem from inadequate and ineffective communication. The Fix: CHAT IT UP. Employees often have no idea if they’re making a contribution or not — and radio silence from their supervisors does nothing to correct this. “Chatting it up” makes the workplace a more collaborative and authentic space where employees feel heard and respected. Communicate more effectively and often. Tackle communication systematically, with scheduled check-ins and evaluations. Remember: meaningful communication inspires positive attitudes towards work.
2. Unclear prioritiesImagine working on a project only to have your manager tell you the company’s priorities have shifted — you go back to make adjustments to your project, only to learn later that management has changed priorities yet again! As frustrating and avoidable as it is, this scenario is more common than you’d think. The Fix: GET CLEAR. In our Workplace Accountability Study, we found that “85% of survey participants indicated they weren’t sure what their organizations were trying to achieve.” By contrast, successful enterprises have two things: (1) a few major objectives, or Key Results, and (2) a standard to which they hold themselves accountable for delivering these key results, no matter what. Leaders must determine three to four meaningful, measurable, and memorable Key Results for the whole organization. Every member of your organization should know them inside and out, such that all priorities and initiatives are framed in terms of those results. Avoiding a lack of accountability and getting clear only works if everyone knows what it is they’re working towards all of the time.
3. Declining engagementIf levels of engagement are dipping, and employees don’t seem invested in their work or are disconnecting from their teams and peers, it’s time to reinforce a sense of purpose. The Fix: CONNECT THE DOTS. The heart of the problem is that individuals in the organization aren’t connecting their daily, individual work with the organization’s Key Results! Strive to make that connection: give consistent feedback, and help employees understand the measurable ways in which their work has a real impact. Partners In Leadership will soon be launching a set of revolutionary new digital tools that allow employees to track and see their real impact on achieving Key Results, thus encouraging deeper engagement.
4. Ineffective executionWhether on an individual level, a team level, or across the organization, if you aren’t successfully meeting objectives, you probably have a lack of accountability issue. The Fix: MIND THE GAP. Are you seeing a gap between desired results and the actual outcomes of team-wide or organization-wide results? Bridge the gap with positive accountability. First, call for a radical re-imagining of what accountability really is. According to the bestselling book The Oz Principle, accountability is “a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and to demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving Key Results.” Rather than punitive or reactive measures, positive accountability champions individuals and teams, recognizing them for their good work and encouraging everyone to work together to hit performance targets.
5. Low levels of trustA lack of trust contributes to negative relationships among colleagues and across the organization at large. It can also contribute to defensive, unproductive attitudes among employees. The Fix: WALK THE WALK. Trust is lost when team members don’t deliver as promised — so do what you say you’re going to do, and hold others to the same standard. Foster a Culture of Accountability in which each individual holds him or herself personally responsible. High levels of positive accountability equate to high levels of trust, and vice versa.
6. High turnoverLast, but certainly not least: high levels of turnover often result from unclear expectations and a general sense of tension between management and employees. The Fix: STAY ABOVE THE LINE®. Leaders should help all employees work Above the Line — that includes assuming responsibility, envisioning results, and taking action to achieve them — as opposed to engaging in Below the Line® thinking, which is categorized by blame, excuses, and disengagement. The point is: you can’t always change unfavorable circumstances, but you can change yourself. By actively taking the steps to positive accountability — See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It® — you can “rise Above The Line” into a new mindset.
The Big Fix to a Lack of AccountabilityPartners in Leadership has been helping organizations create Cultures of Accountability and high levels of engagement to achieve better results for more than 30 years. With a number of accountability, leadership, and culture-building products and a broad array of services, training options, and award-winning curriculum, we can help transform your organization and drive sustained results.
Leadership Tips from a Gold Medal Olympian
- 1. Stay Engaged. Don’t focus on what can’t be done, continue looking for and thinking about creative alternatives.
- 2. Persist. You can never ever stop asking the Solve It question: What else can I do?
- 3. Think Differently. Remember, the same thinking that got you into a problem won’t get you out of it.
- 4. Create New Linkages. New approaches usually involve forging new relationships.
- 5. Take the Initiative. Who do you want to be? Someone who makes things happen; someone who watches things happen; someone who wonders what happened; or someone who never knew anything happened?
- 6. Stay Conscious. Challenge current assumptions and beliefs to break through to new levels of thinking that will most likely take you out of your comfort zone.
5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Culture
- Do you wonder why the people you depend on just don’t seem to get it?
- Are you often disappointed with the results people deliver and routinely ask the question, “How did that happen?”
- Do your people sometimes feel that they waste time working on things you ask them to do because your priorities keep changing?
- Are the people you work closest with unable to articulate what is most important to you with any degree of clarity or certainty?
- Do you tend to understate what you are really asking people to do because you don’t want to strain relationships?
- Do you assume your people already have the vision of what needs to be done and, as a result, you don’t take the needed time to form specific expectations?
- Are you frequently re-explaining or further clarifying what it is you really want?