“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur, arguably one of the greatest military leaders in U.S. history, points out the four C’s of leadership in this famous quote.
Confidence. Great leaders are confident. They are able to rally their team around a vision of the future that doesn’t yet exist. Even when the odds are stacked against them and the goal seems impossible, a true leader will stand alone, if necessary, and provide hope.
Courage. It takes courage to make tough decisions. The best leaders have the guts to be decisive even when the facts aren’t clear. As I wrote about in Fail Fast & Fix It Faster, being decisive as a leader is critical, especially in the “fog of war.”
Compassion. Leadership is about people. As I wrote about in an article called 3 Questions You Should Ask Before Taking a Leadership Job, leadership is a people business. Your entire job is to motivate people towards accomplishing a goal. You need to love people and have the compassion to listen to the needs of others to be a great leader.
Character. Being a person of integrity is critical for leadership. A leader is being watched every day by the team. They will see every inconsistency in the leader’s behavior and actions. What is accepted by the leader is embraced by the team. A leader without character will have a team without integrity.
What do you think? What are some other characteristics of great leaders? What leaders have inspired you in your career? What is the difference between a good and a great leader? Let me know in the comment section below.
Learn more in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.