If you look into the annals of history, every great achievement has at its heart the strength and courage of a leader with good leadership qualities. What makes a great leader? What does the job entail, exactly?
What was it about Alexander the Great that made his army march across and conquer the civilized world for him? What was it about Eisenhower that made his men storm the beaches of Normandy for him? What inspired the followers of Gandhi to stand up the mightiest empire in the world to win their freedom?
It’s often been said that a great leader with good leadership qualities can lead his men to hell and back in such a way that his men follow him with a smile upon their faces. How do they do this? If we could boil it down to just a few good leadership qualities that consistantly generate loyalty and admiration from followers, what would they be? These are my 3 C’s of Contagious Leadership:
Confident: Confidence is of utmost importance in a person who wants to possess good leadership qualities, for nobody will believe in a person who cannot believe in him or herself. Any sense of doubt in the leader’s mind will spread though their followers like wildfire. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the leader’s level of belief determines that of every member of her team, and that of the team as a whole. It is so important that a good leader, even if she should doubt herself, should never show it for fear of destabilizing her unit. Even if she must go against conventional wisdom, if a leader has belief in herself and her cause, her people will follow her anywhere. For example, when Abraham Lincoln decided to stand his ground despite facing certain war with the South, it must have been an incredibly hard choice to make. But, it was his confidence that he was doing the right thing that drove him onward toward eventual victory and made the nation a better place.
Courageous: A person with good leadership qualities must not be lacking in courage. Timid men cannot lead ferocious armies. A good leader must lead from the front and must lead by example. The best leaders, it is said, inspire their people through their own deeds and bravery. Your people would much rather follow you into the fire if they see you jumping in fearlessly, rather than issuing orders from the rear. “Follow me” is far more inspirational to hear than “Go there and do that”. It gives people the belief that their leader is someone worth fighting for. Just picture Gandhi braving the Empire’s rifles armed with nothing more than his beliefs and you’ve got it.
Charismatic: I have had the opportunity to meet many influential leaders and not so influential leaders in the business community. I’ve had coffee and conversation with T. Boone Pickens. I’ve met Ford Motor Company’s CEO Alan Mulally. I’ve talked strategy with Clean Energy Fuels’ CEO Andrew Littlefair. I’ve run the numbers with ATP Oil and Gas Founder and CEO T. Paul Bulmahan. I’ve talked about the open roads and the wind in your hair with Harley-Davidson’s turnaround artist Richard Teerlink. I’ve even gotten a cramp in my cheek telling jokes with Sam Barshop, the founder of the hotel chain La Quinta. The one thing I’ve found in common among this list of leaders is charisma. To be a person who possesses good leadership qualities you must be a likable person. Your follows must enjoy your company. If they don’t, they’ll hide from your presence. How are you going to lead a group that doesn’t want to be around you?
My 3 C’s of Contagious leadership are short. They’re supposed to be short. They’re supposed to be easy to remember. Wake up in the morning and ask yourself will you be Confident, Courageous and Charismatic today?
Can you add to the 3 C’s? What other good leadership qualities to you see among great leaders?