The Nine Cs of Leadership

If we want to know what great leadership and management looks like then we often turn to those outside of education for guidance.

Business leaders, football managers and ex-special forces personnel all have their own take on how to get the best out of others, themselves and the organisation.

We could ask Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alex Ferguson or Ant Middleton for a few ideas and they would all give us something practical to put into action and inspire us. They all have their own unique perspectives and experiences to share that can transfer to other worlds.

Someone else we could ask is Lee Iacocca. “Who?” you might say.

If you are in the UK then it’s probably not that surprising he isn’t on your radar but Lee Iacocca was one of the most powerful and celebrated of US business leaders. He launched the Ford Mustang and turned around the fortunes of Chrysler

With his recent death it seems timely that we take a look at Lee Iaccoca’s book Where Have All The Leaders Gone? and in particular his Nine Cs of Leadership, “qualities every leader should have”. So if that’s the case then what leadership qualities should school leaders have?

1. Curiosity

A leader needs to be curious, to step out of his comfort zone and to listen others’ different, possibly challenging ideas. Without challenging our thinking and belief’s how do we know we are right?

A leader has to show curiosity and listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in their inner circle. A leader has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place.

If leaders don’t put their beliefs to the test then how do they know they are right? As Iacocca says, “The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care.”

2. Creativity

A leader has to be creative, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different, try something new and to think outside of the box. Part of a leader’s role is to manage change. Circumstances alter constantly so a leader needs to adapt and creatively deal with those changes. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt.

3. Communication

A leader has to communicate and that means facing facts, facing realities and telling the truth. People don’t want to hear soundbites. They communicate the truth, suggest strategies to move forward, inviting others to share their ideas and become involved as part of the solution.

4. Character

Character means knowing the difference between right and wrong, it is about our moral and ethical strength. It is what is deep inside us, both when things go well and wrong. Ideally our reputation and our character should be mirror images. This is about doing the right thing for the right reasons. It’s doing things right even when no one is looking.

5. Courage

A leader must have courage. The courage to sit down at the table and talk, to defend what is right even when it might be unpopular. Iacocca says, “Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.”

6. Conviction

A leader should passionately believe in their goals and be determined to achieve them. This means you have a fire in your belly and you’ve got to really want to get something done.

7. Charisma

Charisma is the quality that inspires, that makes others trust you, follow you and believe that they have a valid role to play as part of the vision. This isn’t about being flashy but the ability to inspire.

8. Competency

A leader has to know what they are doing. They need to be competent and also surround themselves with people who know what they are doing as competent problem solvers.

9. Common Sense

Leaders need to be able to reason and use common sense!

Iacccca says that the biggest C is Crisis. Leaders are made, not born.

Leadership is forged in times of crisis and you succeed or fail based on your team. Iacocca says the test of a leader is that when that person leaves, we should be better off than when they started.

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