The 5 Cs: 5 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership

Want to be a stronger leader? Build a stronger team on these five principles.

Article | Accountability Insights by Kirsten Blakemore Edwards | Feb 7, 2019 | Published with permission from Partners in Leadership Many leaders focus on upward movement within their organization, deciding ways they can ascend the ranks in their company. However, fighting hard to get to the top doesn’t necessarily make for a strong leader. There’s another approach you can take to improve your leadership skills that is more rewarding and far less lonely: surrounding yourself with great people. But how do you find and cultivate strong workers? According to the 2018 Gallup Employee Engagement report, only 34 percent of people in the U.S. are engaged in their work. Although this number is quite low, you may be surprised to learn that this is the highest percentage in the history of Gallup’s employee engagement reporting. The number of disengaged workers has reached an all-time low of 13 percent. Despite these record-breaking statistics, U.S. employees’ lack of engagement can have disastrous impacts on the success of their organizations. Perhaps these figures are a direct result of poor leadership. To inspire engagement and effectiveness in their employees, leaders should look within, asking themselves the following questions:
  • 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?
First and foremost, a good leader establishes an important foundation of credibility and trust. When people trust you, you can inspire their engagement and loyalty in the company; this is critical when the organization faces challenges and you need to rally the team to success. Effective leaders can build strong teams on these five principles, the five Cs of great leadership:

1. Collaborate

It 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. Communicate

Strong 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) Candid

Being 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. Connected

Effective 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. Care

Exceptional 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 Organization

Great 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

Lack of accountability in the workplace often stems from ineffective leadership practices and mindsets. Watch for these warning signs before confusion and dysfunction threaten your company’s culture—and results.
Article | Accountability Insights by Craig Hickman | Apr 10, 2018 | Reposted with Permission from Partners in Leadership Accountability Article Great leaders know that positive accountability creates a culture of trust, engagement, and exceptional performance. When employees can count on one another, team members become invested in the company’s success — and feel rewarded for their hard work. In short, accountability is key to a more effective and happy workforce. So how does a lack of accountability in the workplace impact a company? Unfortunately, without a strong Culture of Accountability®, your organization will suffer. Wondering how to spot the warning signs? Here are the 6 indications that you need more positive accountability in the workplace:

1. Low Morale

Low 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 priorities

Imagine 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 engagement

If 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 execution

Whether 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 trust

A 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 turnover

Last, 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 Accountability

Partners 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.


   What Else Can You Do?

The credit card division of a large bank held an (The Oz Principle Accountability Training) workshop in an effort to create greater accountability and ownership in its call center where turnover was high, “handle time” was long, and software solutions were inadequate. Reposted from Article | Accountability Insights by Partners In Leadership | Aug 17, 2011
The credit card division of a large bank held an (The Oz Principle Accountability Training) workshop in an effort to create greater accountability and ownership in its call center where turnover was high, “handle time” was long, and software solutions were inadequate. Bold targets for improvement were established during the workshop and, to management’s surprise, everyone got on board. 
After the workshop, however, when it came to bringing about real change, the going got tough as numerous unexpected issues and problems arose. Undaunted, everyone in the organization began looking for ways to improve performance by constantly asking “What Else Can I Do?“. Ideas poured in from everywhere as everyone from senior management to telephone operators took accountability for reducing the time needed to handle a call. They changed the way they hired people; they implemented new software solutions; they began measuring and reporting performance on a daily basis; they implemented a balanced scorecard; and they focused their training on high priority skills and behavior. A Solve It mentality flourished, leading to a new set of Solve It skills. The result was a whopping increase of $143 million a year to the company’s bottom line.Over the years, we have helped clients translate their understanding and ownership into problem-solving action with the following set of key Solve It skills: 
  1. 1. Stay Engaged. Don’t focus on what can’t be done, continue looking for and thinking about creative alternatives.
  2. 2. Persist. You can never ever stop asking the Solve It question: What else can I do?
  3. 3. Think Differently. Remember, the same thinking that got you into a problem won’t get you out of it.
  4. 4. Create New Linkages. New approaches usually involve forging new relationships.
  5. 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. 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.
To find out more about creating greater ownership, call us or join us in our South-East Asian timezone webinars at acknowledging reality and owning circumstances will accomplish little if you fail to solve problems and remove obstacles on your road to results. Once you See It and Own It, you must Solve It by constantly asking “What else can I do to achieve the desired results?” Only then can you consistently Do It! All registered trademarks and trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners.


5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Culture

From day one, people show up asking the question, “How do things work around here?”They seek answers from their leaders and co-workers on how to be successful.The answers they get, either directly or from non-verbal cues, quickly condition them on how to think and act...Yet, despite its importance and prevalence, too often I have seen leaders give lip-service to culture while inadvertently causing tremendous damage. Here are five of the most common ways leaders accidentally sabotage their own culture: 1. Talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. When leaders ask their employees to do something but aren’t willing to do it themselves, it undermines their credibility. Leaders lead by example, whether they realize it or not. When they say one thing and do another, they set a dangerous precedent for those around them to do as they do, not as they say. 2. Have an unclear direction. A ship with no rudder would never leave the harbor, yet many organizations lack a clear direction of where they are headed. Leaders may have resources available and talent on board, but without a strong vision, clear results and a sense of purpose, their organization will flounder. Confusion is the great defender of the status quo, while clarity breeds confidence, purpose, and growth.
“A company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin.  What goes around the office comes around to the customer. We wanted employees that really believed in our long term vision and really felt like this was the right culture for them. It encourages people to go home, talk to their friends and family and ask themselves, “Is this a company I really believe in? Is this a culture I really want to be a part of and contribute to?” Tony Hsieh

3. Lack consistency.

One day the leader shows up and they are maniacally focused on driving sales at all costs; the next day, the leader shows up and says, “We need to focus on operational efficiency, no matter the expense;” and the next, day turnover is too high. When leaders become too reactionary and inconsistent in word and action, it creates a culture of uncertainty; a culture where no one wants to do anything because they aren’t sure what mood or focus the leader will have that day. 4. Place blame, rather than seek solutions.
When leaders try to place blame for problems, rather than seeking solutions, the culture quickly becomes a toxic “no-accountability” zone where everyone is constantly gearing up for missed results and deadlines, rather than innovatively driving toward achieved results and earned success. 5. Hire, fire & promote the wrong people. All team members you bring on board–with their unique backgrounds, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses–have a profound impact on your culture.  Make sure you are selecting the right people, getting rid of those who don’t reinforce your organizational values, and shining a spotlight on those who do.
“The only competitive advantage we have is the culture and values of the company. Anyone can open up a coffee store. We have no technology, we have no patent. All we have is the relationship around the values of the company and what we bring to the customer every day. And we all have to own it.” Howard Schultz,

CEO, Starbucks

As leaders, we can avoid these pitfalls by fully embracing our role in establishing our organization’s culture. We begin to shape the right environment when we lead by example, communicate a clear direction, maintain consistency, seek solutions not blame, and make sure we have the right team in place. A great culture requires more than lip-service. It takes ongoing work and mindful action. Remember, either you will manage your culture, or your culture will manage you!
“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the leaders.” David Cummings

Co-Founder, Pardot


Key Expectations - Clear and Aligned?

When it comes to Key Expectations that absolutely must be met (i.e., no excuse  deliverables), nothing but “crystal clear and aligned” will do. Reposted with permission from Partners In Leadership | June 12, 2015
For some people, forming “crystal clear and aligned” expectations may be easy, but for most of us, it’s not. Generally, we do an “okay” job of letting people know what we expect of them. When it’s really important, we often do a “better” job by working harder to make sure people know what we expect. However, doing “better” than “okay” is usually not enough to deliver the results we want. The work of forming “crystal clear and aligned” expectations begins with becoming much more conscious and deliberate about the process. First and foremost, the expectation must be formed in a way that makes the deliverable clearly understood by all involved. Managers and leaders can always form expectations on their own, but “crystal clear and aligned” expectations are always formed through collaboration with those involved in making it happen. Only mutually understood and agreed upon expectations can get people fully committed to getting the job done. So, how are you doing when it comes to forming “crystal clear and aligned” expectations? Answer “Yes” or “No” to the following questions to find out.
  • 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?
If you replied “Yes” to one or more of the above statements, there is room for improvement. Sign up for one of our upcoming webinars to learn more about forming crystal clear and aligned Key Expectations. Key Expectations is a registered trademark of Partners In Leadership, Inc. All other registered trademarks and trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners.