February 3

The 3 components of a leader



There are three main components of leadership. Where are you strong? Which weakness is limiting your impact?

3 components of leadership

The more I reflect on leadership, the more I see it as a combination of three things – that all helpfully begin with the letter C!

  • Character – your inner life: what people see when they look beyond your sales pitch and pep talk!
  • Competence – your experience and mastery of the levers of leadership:  your ability to articulate the vision, identify what needs to be done and when, anticipate the roadblocks, push for success, and organise the team.
  • Connection – your charisma: your ability to touch hearts, convince the undecided, and take people with you

If one of these three elements is too weak compared with the others, our ability to lead is hampered and our impact drops accordingly.

  • With high character and competence, but low connection, we become managers, but fail to really stir our team to go the extra mile.
  • With high character and connection, but low competence, we become preachers with a stirring message, but fail to drive the results we long for.
  • With high competence and connection, but low character, we become a menace! For an extreme example, think of Adolf Hitler.

I will talk about the elements of character, competence and connection in a future post.  For now let’s note that growing each of these areas requires a different approach.  Growing character starts with introspection.  Growing competence starts with education.  Growing connection starts with empathy.


Take a look at the Venn diagram and have a think about your current leadership context.  Which zone would you put yourself in?  If you plonk yourself in the centre than think about an off-day and consider which zone you are most likely to slip into.  Be brave and let me know which zone you tend towards!

About the author 

Richard Medcalf

Strategist, consultant and business leader with 15 years experience in helping companies thrive in an Internet world. Formerly a partner in strategy consultancy Analysys Mason; now at Cisco Systems, developing new strategic partnerships with leading telecoms players.

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