The art of leadership is as old as human history. At the same time mastering leadership is a life long pursuit for those who wish to lead effectively.
Countless books have been written on leadership. Thousands of seminars and workshops are conducted across the globe every year. We witness leadership summits and conferences. Yet there is no end to the variety of ways in which leadership is studied, presented and understood.
In this short speech let me put across to you 7 Essential C’s of Leadership.
First of all, leadership is about effecting change. For change to happen it should begin with the leader himself. The change most needed, I believe, is in the ability to be flexible. Old habits, thinking patterns that do not match the demands of today have to be discarded. It simply means that the leader should not try to impose change on others without modeling it himself.
Secondly, leadership is about exhibiting courage. Primarily, it is about courage in taking decisions. The man who delays decisions so as not to offend anyone cannot lead. So also the man who wavers at the first sign of opposition. But one who is bold in decision and action will find others align with him sooner or later.
Thirdly, Leadership is about character. Sadly so many are just concerned with cosmetics. That is how to appear charismatic, winsome and have an appealing personality. All this can do you good for a season. But it is like building a super structure on sand. On the other hand a rock-strong foundation characterized by integrity is a must to lead effectively.
Coming fourth in the list, leadership is about conviction. Now conviction comes when truth is firmly established in one’s heart. It can be an understanding of truth about people, situations or even what motivates opposition. Conviction comes also from a clear understanding of what you can or cannot do. Without conviction, a leader fails to inspire.
In the fifth place leadership is about contexts. In other words each leadership situation is set in the backdrop of a historical context. Sir Winston Churchill whose voice broadcast over radio instilled courage in the hearts of the people of Britain during World War II is a classic example. He was the man for the hour. You too can rise to the occasion and lead if you have a keen insight and awareness of the context in which you are in.
The penultimate thought is that leadership is about confidence. Let me put it this way: Who will follow someone who is a bundle of nervousness; whose words exhibit anxiety and whose body language is like that of a little boy who broke his favorite toy? A leader, therefore believes in the best even when the ship reels to and fro in troubled waters. Everything about his poise and posture exudes calm.
Finally, leadership is about communication. A leader’s words should inspire, make others think, take needed action and impact people beyond the immediate audience. Just look at a list of world famous speeches. Most of them came from leaders who were able to articulate and communicate their vision to the masses. Leadership communication is therefore critical to the success of any endeavour. A man or woman who is able to communicate with clarity and a sense of purpose leads brilliantly.
Let me conclude.
Warren Bennis in his Introduction to On Becoming a Leader wrote, “To an extent, leadership is like beauty: it’s hard to define, but you know when you see it.” Even though it is hard to define, you can learn and master some of the components that go into the creation of effective leadership.
I believe that, though there are so many other components, Change, Courage, Character, Conviction, Contexts, Confidence, and Communication are 7 Essential C’s of Effective Leadership. Mastering these leadership principles take time. An effective leader is someone who experiences growth in these areas as time passes by.
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