Leadership in Context – Final Installment

The FIVE “Cs” of Leadership; An overview of the attributes of leadership (continued)

In this final posting on the current topic of leadership, I complete our review of some of the different approaches to discussing the traits that are commonly identified with an effective leader.  Those of you who have read the previous postings will recall that I began the discussion with models that involved more simplified structures and approaches, and I have been progressively working through various models that involve greater and greater complexity and identified traits and leadership factors. I will then share my views about the common threads that become apparent in reviewing the research and publications.

John Maxwell’s The 21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader

Before discussing the themes that develop in reviewing many of the popular works relating to leadership, our final review is of John C. Maxwell’s 1999 work, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. This book identifies – you guessed it – 21 qualities that his research shows maps to good leadership. Mr. Maxwell devotes a tidy chapter to each of the following attributes and provides interesting and enlightening anecdotes to illustrate what he means by each of the traits he discusses.  Because Maxwell’s list is broken into far more individual characteristics than most of the other authors, I will not go into detail relative to each trait.  The traits, as he characterizes them are fairly straightforward and, thus, more explanation on my part is not really necessary.  The traits identified by Maxwell in his work are:

•Positive Attitude

Summary and Themes

We have now reviewed five leading researchers and authors whose work in the field of leadership is widely recognized for their significant contributions. Having recently re-read each of these writer’s works, themes became clear to me in the process.  After reviewing the writer’s works that I have discussed in this series, I found that I could sum up the qualities of someone who is an effective leader in five words.

The effective leader is someone who is:

  • Capable – they are good at what they do and have the proper balance of depth and breadth of subject-matter expertise to enable them develop a vision and a properly-scoped focus, execute on that vision, generate gates and be self-assured and self-confident without being arrogant.
  • Committed – the best leaders have a strong sense of self-mastery.  They demonstrate character and courage, initiative and passion.  Their passion and courage is balanced by their sense of responsibility to something larger than themselves and a sense of self-discipline.
  • Connected – they like people and value relationships. They have a natural power with people, charisma, and an ability to create coalitions.  They value their connectedness with others and tend to have extensive and diverse networks that they draw on for their support. Because of their connectedness, they have built in support and a greater, more natural opportunity to anchor new approaches among the larger community.
  • Communicative – effective leadership demands effective communication. The most effective leaders are dynamic communicators who can sell their vision effectively to others and generate excitement in the process. However, effective communication goes well beyond just the ability to be highly persuasive. The best leaders demonstrate that they are also great listeners, who allow themselves to be influenced by the thoughts and inputs of others. They are teachable, and in the process they garner wider support and shared ownership for their vision and strategy because others, likewise, feel ownership.
  • Caring – finally, effective leaders have a strong sense of servanthood.  They are recognized as giving to their community and being generous in sharing their time, expertise, personal support, and positive attitude to further something larger than themselves.

I have mapped the traits that the leading authors identified into the table below to illustrate how the “Five C’s of Leadership” really do emerge, as one reviews the literature.

The Five “Cs” of Leadership

The Five C’s of Leadership

Capable Committed Connected Communicative Caring
Maven Self-mastery Connector Sales people Giving
Focus Create a sense of urgency Power with People Persuasive
Execution Character Create a coalition Communicate the Change Vision Empowering Broad-based action
Vision & Strategy Commitment Anchor New Approaches in Culture Listening Generosity
Generate Gains Courage Charisma Teachable Positive Attitude
Consolidate Gains Focus Relationships Servanthood
Capable Initiative
Discernment Passion
Problem-solving Responsibility
Self-security Self-discipline

For a full-color chart click this link: The Five C’s of Leadership -Full Color Chart


I hope that those of you who are interested in the field of leadership training and development find this series of postings interesting and helpful.  In the near future, I will post the entire article on our Articles section on the website.  Please feel free to post a comment or to contact me with questions, challenges, additional thoughts, or other comments!

Bruce MacAllister – June 2011


Comments (4)

  1. Reply

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  2. Reply

    Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your design. Thank you

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