The letter “C” is chock full of cool characteristics to define great leaders. This 12 Most post continues my Letters of the Alphabet Leadership series. You can read the 12 Most Bodacious “B” Behaviors of Great Leaders to catch up. Let’s get to those Captivating “C” Characteristics of Leaders…

1. Calming

Leaders should celebrate the highs and be consoling during the lows. They should spend the rest of their time as the calm and competent captains steering the organization.

2. Canny

Canny leaders are both prudent and shrewd. I think this quote by Charles Horton Cooley nails it when it comes to the power of shrewdness: A talent somewhat above mediocrity, shrewd and not too sensitive, is more likely to rise in the world than genius.

3. Captivating

The Art of Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki remains one of my favorite books. His advice applies well in both the professional world and personal lives. To enchant the people around you is to captivate them. Be genuine. Be engaging. Be different.

4. Ceaseless

People want to follow leaders with ceaseless energy and belief in their vision. I like how Gandhi put it: Unwearied ceaseless effort is the price that must be paid for turning faith into a rich infallible experience.

5. Charitable

Leaders are charitable with their time, their talents, and their praises. I cannot remember an instance where I looked back and regretted being charitable! Definitely be generous with the praise. Give those high-performing, hard workers an occasional Friday afternoon off. You know they are “good for it.”

6. Classy

Classy means elegant and stylish. Now, before you go buy the Jaguar and French cuff shirts to show off the Rolex — I do not mean to take it that far! At the bottom of this post, I say you should avoid being described as “coarse.” Avoid foul language, gossip, reprehensible behavior and abuse of your authority. Be the opposite. Be classy.

7. Coherent

It would defeat the purpose to have a captivated audience in awe of your ceaseless work ethic…and then be incoherent! Great leaders have awesome communication skills. They know how to coherently give instructions or provide insight and progress reports on achieving corporate goals.

8. Committed

Employees can sense when they are working with a resume-padding, upwardly-mobile manager. One of the biggest red flags is their lack of commitment to project success. I once worked for a company who knew its best profit margins, and least risks, were in the analysis phase. They actually preferred to NOT WIN the bigger project that would require that something be built! Once team members found out that their projects were setup to fail, they lost the motivation to go that extra mile and work those extra billable hours. Morale plummeted, employee turnover was high, and company revenue suffered. Great leaders clearly define their goals and then commit their resources to attaining those goals.

9. Compassionate

Great leaders are not meant to be babysitters or counselors. However, showing vulnerability through empathy and compassion is actually a sign of strength that garners loyalty from team members.

10. Competitive

This may be a personal preference, but I like leaders with a little “chip on the shoulder.” When they are winning, they do not take anything for granted. When they have a loss, they grit their teeth and re-double their efforts to succeed. They live the Japanese proverb: Fall down seven times, get up eight!

11. Consistent

It is hard to hit a moving target. Leaders remain consistent with their goals, their attitudes and their behaviors. Consistency is a cornerstone for success.

12. Cunning

Cunning can have a negative connotation; however, I equate it with street-smarts. There is “ivory tower” book knowledge, and then there is “school of hard knocks” common sense. Cunning leaders are instinctive, and every organization can use a few wily veterans!

In the spirit of 12 Most posts, here are twelve “C’s you do not want to be”: Callous, Cantankerous, Catastrophic, Caustic, Certifiable, Chaotic, Chauvinistic, Coarse, Colicky, Combustible, Condescending, and Corrupt.

Pick a favorite leader who impacted your life or career. Look at your favorite leaders in history. Which “C” leadership characteristics did they have in abundance?

Republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most.

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