While at dinner with some very good friends recently, our discussion evolved to the subject of leadership. Two of us shared with our younger friends the principles of leadership we each use as our guides in how we manage and lead others. It was amazing how similar our principles could be even though our individual leadership style is very different.
During my first year or two at my Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® job, Jim Peters, former CEO of the South Carolina Association of REALTORS®, shared some principles of leadership that I have forever held close. They have served me well during days filled with sunshine and in days of raging storms. They are the four “Cs” of leadership: character, competence, challenge, and conviction.
These were inspired by the writings of John C. Maxwell. These four “Cs” are the required infrastructure that people must see in you before they will be inspired to follow you.
More than anything else, followers want to believe that their leaders are ethical and honest. They want to say, “Someday I want to be like him or her.”
When your people see that you not only are well-qualified to lead the organization but also have a track record of successes, they will have confidence in following you, even when they don’t understand all the details.
By creating a clear and compelling vision, you will give others a reason to contribute to the cause. It’s your job as a leader to get your people excited about what their work will accomplish. When they have a sense of purpose that they’re challenged to fulfill, you will rarely have problems motivating them to contribute.
If you don’t believe in a vision that you are trying to advance, the people will sense that something is missing and be very reluctant to follow. On the other hand, when your people sense that you are so confident of moving in a certain direction that you’d make personal sacrifices to do so, they are more willing to dig deep within themselves to give an extra effort as well.
In my experience, the more visible and transparent I can be in each of these areas, the more success I have at home and at work. I often review these principles before launching a major initiative or before entering an important meeting. As Maxwell suggests, I have an accountability friend with whom I share ideas and goals for improvement. I continue to try to improve in each of these areas, one step at a time.
—Mark Allen, 2013 Chair, AE Committee