Thursday, November 8, 2012

Simplifying Leadership with the 3C Disciplines

Guest post by Great Leadership regular contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

I, and others, have been guilty in the past of making leadership so complicated. Both new and current leaders can become overwhelmed with the long lists of leadership “how tos” and “need tos”. How can any leader master all of these?  But does great leadership really have to be so complicated? 

As I have worked with successful leaders over the years, they all have demonstrated three disciplines that I believe are critical to success: Care, Curiosity, and Courage. And when leaders embrace and master these three disciplines much of what a leader has to accomplish is a result of these core disciplines.

So what is so special about Care, Curiosity, and Courage?

As a leader, when you consistently care, both employee engagement and employer brand are improved for the organization. 

Care is perceived by others from actions that a leader chooses to do or not do. The ability to consciously and purposefully choose to act and communicate in a caring way shows those that you lead that they are much more than an employee to you and the organization. When you demonstrate care a trusting and safe environment will develop, where employees will want to share their ideas and concerns with you. 

I want readers not to confuse care with coddling. Care is not coddling! Coddling is for kids not for adults who are being compensated for work. 

Care is also about community and society as a whole. Today’s leaders must be part of the greater good and not insular to their company and industry. Great leaders care about what is happening in their community and become an active part of their community. 

Consistently exhibiting curiosity and having a commanding desire to understand and learn can stimulate innovation and creativity within an organization. And with the rate of change accelerating, both innovation and creativity are critical to a company’s future. Curiosity can drive you as a leader to be more agile to market and economic changes. 

You demonstrate curiosity by asking great and powerful questions to understand others and uncover opportunities. Learning and developing yourself as a leader shows others that you are not only curious but that you value growth and development. And when you embrace curiosity then you are helping to develop others around you. Curiosity can have a synergistic effect on others. 

On the other hand, if you think you have all the answers and aren’t open to new ideas you won’t be prepared for changes that can affect both you, your team members and your organization. Lack of curiosity is a risk to leaders. 

And the final leadership discipline but by no means least, courage. This is the discipline that if mastered can set you apart as a leader. Leadership courage aids in keeping companies on the path to their vision, and true to their mission and values. With courage, organizations thrive in a world of transparency where the truth is spoken even when the message is difficult.  

Accountability is found with leaders of courage. Employees have clear expectations of performance standards and are held to them. And, employees aren’t surprised when receiving feedback and development plans. 

Courage doesn’t come easily.  It requires you to make tough decisions that may have a negative impact on you personally and/or professionally. Courage is also demonstrated when you have the fierce conversations with team members that you don’t look forward to in a timely manner. 

When you can concentrate on just three and not multiple lists of disciplines, change is manageable. Take time to assess yourself in these three disciplines, identify what needs to be strengthened and work at becoming more consistent in practicing them all.
Beth Armknecht Miller, of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development advisory firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders. She is also a Vistage Chair and Executive Coach. She is certified in Myers Briggs and Hogan leadership assessment tools and is a Certified Managerial Coach by Kennesaw State University. Visit or or follow her on twitter at SrExecAdvisor.


David Marquet said...

Couldn't agree more.
Curiosity = the ability to see things.
Care = ability to empathize with our people
Courage = ability to do the right thing, especially when it comes to our own instincts.

Shaune & Christa said...

Article was well worth my time. Thank you.
Care= We will always be in the "people business".
Curiosity= We avoid stagnation by always looking for better.
Courage= We need to take calculated risks on occasions.

Anthony Beardsell said...

I agree that leadership is firstly an attitude. I like care, curiosity and courage. I always encourage courage, compassion and responsibility. Care and compassion equate to the same. Responsibility is key I think as it encourages people to avoid playing the victim and blaming others, encouraging them to take responsibility for their results.

Leadership is also a set of habits, which can be learn with the right intention.

Margaret Feinberg said...

"Care is not coddling! Coddling is for kids not for adults who are being compensated for work." --a very important difference! thanks for pointing that out!

Beth A Miller said...

Thanks to all of your comments and interpretation of the three Cs. Anthony, yes responsibility is important and the way I look at responsibility is that if you haven't mastered accountability then trying to master new disciplines is probably not on your priority list.