What’s the biggest mistake in leadership? Arrogance? Self-interest? Acting too fast? Personally, I would say it’s being certain. Things change all the time. When we forget that, we become certain. And when we become certain, we forget to pay attention. Why bother? We’re certain. Being certain often gets leaders in serious trouble with their constituents whether their employees, shareholders, owners, or even voters.
My second choice is betraying trust. When you betray someone’s trust as a leader, the rest doesn’t matter.
As a leader you can’t afford to commit any of the mistakes mentioned above—not if you want to keep being effective.
How can you avoid making leadership mistakes? By keeping the 4 C’s of leadership in mind. They have the support of people like John Maxwell, Marshall Goldsmith, and Peter Drucker.
So what are the four C’s of leadership?
Competence as a leader is just demonstrating the right work ethic and intensity you’re looking for in your team. It’s walking the walk. Competence is:
- Going the extra mile—just like you want your team to do. Competent leaders don’t just show up. They show up with fire in their bellies and their game faces on.
- Showing up when you’re expected to and coming ready to play. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are or how hard the challenge.
- Demonstrating personal growth, showing continuous personal improvement, and following through on assignments.
- Doing a lot more than is expected by your team, employers, and shareholders.
- Having high intention, intense effort, a definite direction, and skillful execution. As Simon Sinek says: “Leadership is inspiration, nothing more, nothing less.”
Above all, competence is never an accident.
You must be candid. You can cause organizational dysfunction by being afraid of being candid. When an employee isn’t meeting a company’s needs, you need to have a candid conversation with that employee.
Leadership is also about influence. You must be influential to be effective as a leader. But you can’t be influential if you’re not candid with team members.
Use candor to establish, build, and expand your relationship with team members. Then use it to grow your influence with others.
How well do you know your team members? Can you recall personal information about each? Many leaders can’t recall any personal information about their team members.
Leadership depends on influence and influence is dependent on two things: how well you connect with others in the workplace and how well you switch from being a solo producer to a people/team developer.
Motivation is a part of leadership. But you can’t motivate people if you don’t touch their emotions. To do this, you must first understand yourself then connect openly with team members.
How will you connect? Focus on your team members, believe in them, and live your message.
This personifies who you really are. It reveals what you’re truly made of. Character is who you are when you’re alone. It’s easy to fake but eventually others detect you’re faking it.
Achieve character by living up to a core set of values and through self-discipline. Character sustains meaningful relationships and relationships enhance your ability to lead and influence others.
Every leader makes mistakes. But many of them can be alleviated by the 4 C’s of leadership — Competence, Candor, Connect, and Character. Use them effectively and you’ll be a great leader.
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