The 5 Cs of leadership: Going from the boiler room to the boardroom

by FM Media
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LENNY JACHIMOWICZ, global vice president of engineering and facilities management at Marriott International and keynote speaker at Total Facilities 2012, reports how applying the five Cs of leadership to his career path strategy took him from the boiler room to the boardroom.

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work side by side with some great leaders. Over the years, I have also admired how some companies move to the top of their rank within a short period of time after a new leader steps in. Thus, I decided to take a closer look at what it is that makes great leaders so successful.
In almost every case, I found that all successful leaders had many of the same things in common. They were all competent, possessed confidence and courage, communicated effectively, remained consistent in their pursuit and always knew which way was true north.
Shortly after I realised there were such similarities in great leaders, I had the opportunity to hear Indra Nooyi, who was chief operating officer of PepsiCo at the time, speak about what she called the five Cs. I left the meeting wondering, as a facilities manager, how I could apply the five Cs to grow my skill set and move my career forward. That was 10 years ago and now I’m happy to report that embracing the five Cs has helped with my success as a leader in an environment where my role has continued to expand and become more complex. Here is an inside look into how I have applied the five Cs:

1. Competency
It does not matter what you do or don’t do. If you are not the very best at something, you cannot become a successful leader. You must develop your ‘hip pocket skill’. You want people to seek you out for advice and you want to be known as the ‘go to’ person on a particular subject. You must also continue to invest in your development to remain current and relevant in your competency.

2. Courage and confidence
Developing the skill to talk openly about your ideas and defend them when challenged will push you to grow as a leader. Having the confidence and courage to surface good ideas has helped me build my skill set as a leader.

3. Communication
I could argue this is one of the most important of the five Cs because without solid communication skills, both written and verbal, it is difficult for others to understand what you stand for. Being able to articulate a vision, motivating others to rally around that vision and then pulling through the results requires strong communication skills in a leader.

4. Consistency
As a leader, being able to ‘stay the course’ is not always the easiest path to take, but it will lead to a greater reward if done well. This is the C that requires the leader to have confidence in their mission, no matter how big or small, and to be able to push through the difficult periods. I learned that inconsistency causes organisations and teams to second-guess themselves, which also drives rework and wasted time. I should note that it is OK to change your mind or take a new direction, but make sure the people affected understand the logic behind your decision and that you communicate the rationale to all stakeholders.

5. Compass
For me, this is the most important of the five Cs because it defines your integrity and there is no compromise when it comes to integrity. Understanding your true north and consistently acting with integrity is a necessity. Without it, the other four Cs will not make you a successful leader.

There are many books, seminars, processes and programs available today that talk about becoming a successful leader. The five Cs happens to be the one that I connected with and adopted as my guiding principles. You will find many similarities between the various offerings, but when you take a deeper look at successful leaders, these are the similarities that contributed to their success. If you want to grow your leadership skills, you must find your connection.

Lenny Jachimowicz is the global vice president of engineering and facilities management at Marriott International. In his current role, he has global responsibility for over 1600 managed hotels worldwide. He and his team set strategy for the engineering discipline, in addition to asset protection, preventative maintenance, energy and sustainability, and human capital development.

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