We live in an era where each one of us as professionals need to continuously invest in upskilling, cross-skilling and learning on an ongoing basis, whether or not our organisations invests in us.

As part of my learning plan, I attended a conference yesterday – The GIIMS, The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit 2017, organised by Paul Writer.

Jessie Paul, CEO of Paul Writer held a fire-side chat with Sushma Rajagopalan, MD, CEO, ITC Infotech.

As part of the fireside chat, she mentioned that she has a list of qualities that indicates if someone is a good leader.

She called it the 4C’s of leadership.

I think it is a great way to lead our lives, irrespective of whether we officially have the title of a leader and so would like to share them here.

C – Clarity of Thought

A lot of my friends and colleagues ask me the reason why I continue to blog. Some of them even taunt me by telling me, that I am not that busy with my official work as they are and so am able to find time to read and write.

However, the real reason why I write is for me to develop a point-of-view and share this point-of-view with my friends (known and unknown) & colleagues. This also helps me see if my perspective changes over time and if it does, how.

Writing this blog also allows me the ability to crystallise my thinking on certain topics that I think are important and relevant for me and my friends. This has also allowed me to build the ability to force myself to think clearly and do so on-demand. This has held me in good standing multiple times.

C – Conviction to Act

In order to be a leader, we need to not only have clarity of thought but also the conviction to act on the thought. The world does not move on ideas and thoughts, it moves when someone decides to act on the thought. I can work on improving my thinking and develop a good perspective, but what use is it, if I don’t share the perspective. How will I ever know if my perspective was good or flawed? How will I improve? Action by definition moves things and thereby allows us to learn and build momentum.

Conviction to act is also courageous because, the action could lead us to uncomfortable places, it could lead to a situation where we acted on our conviction and found that our convictions were not as good as we thought. It takes courage to continue to act and take the chance of failure.

Leaders are people who take actions – with or without complete clarity.

C – Charisma to Influence

Gone are the days when the CEO or the leader could get all of his troops to march to his orders without any questions asked. Today, the leader has to build influence over his followers to get them to take action in a way that is congruent to his/her vision.

So, a good leader is someone who has the charisma to influence leaders whom they follow, influence their peers and finally and most important influence their followers. Building and maintaining this charisma is an ongoing process and never stops.

Leaders who can influence people to act, can move mountains.

C – Character Always

As they say, charisma with character makes a leader and charisma without character makes a con-artist. Being authentic and of good, strong and moral character is the foundation on which everything else needs to be built.

In the absence of this quality, everything else will fail. This is one quality that is probably one where good leaders do not have to constantly work on to improve as this is a binary quality – you are either a person with strong moral character or you are not. There is no middle ground there.


I think this is a simple, yet profound way to think of qualities that make a good leader. You need all four of them to be present in order for the leader to leave a big impact.

Each one of us is a leader, whether we think of ourselves as such or not. At the very least, we lead our families, we are leaders that our children look up to and want to follow. So, it is important that we continuously spend time, attention, money and effort to hone our leadership skills by working to improve these qualities in ourselves.