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The 3 Cs of Leadership

Submitted by Brittany in November 2012


As a graduate student in a Postsecondary Educational Leadership program of study, I have learned of a number of aspects and characteristics of effective leadership which are pertinent not only to postsecondary educational leadership, but also business leadership, as well as other forms of leadership.  However, there are three characteristics in particular which come to mind, as they are especially noteworthy. As a business student and aspiring business leader, it is important that you be aware of these characteristics, and that you strive to further develop these characteristics within yourself; as they will help you in your various relationships with others, and in the varying situations which you are bound to find yourself in. These three defining leadership characteristics, which we can refer to as the Three Cs of Leadership, are as follows: communication, collaboration, and consultation.

The First C of Leadership: Communication

            The importance of effective communication simply cannot be overstated.  As a business student and future rising business leader, it is crucial that you have the ability to communicate effectively in both writing as well as verbally.  Furthermore, having the ability to communicate effectively will be useful not only in your business and academic relationships, but also in your personal relationships, as effective communication is key to any healthy relationship.  A miscommunication or complete failure to communicate in any of these relationships could have anywhere from minor to devastating repercussions.  For example, in the world of business where the stakes are high, a miscommunication or failure to communicate could be very costly, and even result in the loss of a client’s or customer’s business.  In the world of academia, where students frequently engage in collaborative efforts to complete assignments or tasks, a miscommunication or failure to communicate on the part of one group member could reflect negatively upon the group as a whole, which brings us to the second C of leadership, collaboration.

The Second C of Leadership: Collaboration

In both the business world and the world of academia, the ability to collaborate and to work well with others is crucial. In the business world, collaborations and partnerships occur frequently within companies, as well as between companies. In the world of academia, students frequently complete assignments and tasks in groups or pairs. From a leadership perspective, the ability to collaborate with others is of particular importance.  As pointed out in Leadership: Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse (2012), “Others (groups) are required for leadership to occur.”  Thus if others are a requirement in order for leadership to occur, and a leader is unable to collaborate with others, this could equate to ineffective leadership, which could have a profound impact upon a business. Lastly, from both a business perspective and a leadership perspective, decisions which are made as the result of a collaborative effort, also known as collaborative decision making, is highly valued.  Regardless of the perspective with which collaboration is viewed, be it from a business or academic perspective, or from a leadership perspective; it is clear that the ability to collaborate with others is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity.

The Third C of Leadership: Consultation

Consultation, like communication and collaboration, is also an important aspect of leadership.  As pointed out in Looking for Leadership: Another Search Party’s Report by Bolman and Deal (1994), it is consultation that is the true essence of leadership.  Furthermore, in both the business world and the world of academia, there is a need for consultation, especially when expertise is needed.  As a business student, you will need to consult your professors about your grades and your progress, as well as to obtain valuable input and feedback from them.  You may also be given assignments on topics where your knowledge is limited, or topics or areas which a person with expertise could shed some further light on, or provide you with additional clarification.  For example business law, an area pertaining to business which could be new to you, or an area where you have limited knowledge, particularly if you are a first year business student.  In such a case, consulting a faculty member with expertise in the area of business law, or an attorney who practices business law could be extremely helpful.

In addition, in the business world, many companies frequently do business with business consultation firms and/or employ business consultants that are strictly in the business of offering business consulting services.  Companies and individuals who hire these firms or consultants recognize that they do not have expertise in all areas, which is why they consult those who possess expertise or an in depth knowledge of the area with which they are unfamiliar with, or with which they do not have expertise.  As a business student and rising business leader it is crucial that you have the ability to acknowledge those areas in which your knowledge is limited, and that you have the ability to consult individuals who possess expertise or an in depth knowledge of those areas.

In conclusion, as we have seen, the 3 Cs of Leadership: Communication, Collaboration, and Consultation, are applicable to both the business world, as well as the world of academia.  It is crucial for your success as a business student, and as a rising business leader that you develop your skills in all three areas, as doing so will carry you through your long business school days, those extra long nights of studying, and the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of doing business in the real world.

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