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Applying the 6Cs of Effective Leadership on your Journey to the Top! by Karl George MBE

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At various times in your career, the need to develop yourself as a leader will emerge and you’ll wonder how and why you are going to make the next step. I have found that as each opportunity presents itself, there are simple principles you can apply to help prepare yourself for what can sometimes seem like a move out of your comfort zone.

One of my key outcomes as an international governance consultant is to develop effective board members the world over. To this end, I created the Effective Board Member Programmes which are designed to equip those people who want to contribute to the leadership of an organisation by becoming board members with the right knowledge, skills and experience to do so. I have identified that there are 6Cs that serve as a helpful reminder of what it takes to become an effective board member but here, are also applied to leadership to help you make the leap.

For completeness, I also detail ‘The 6cs of an Effective Board Member’. Both leaders and those involved in the governance of organisations (which is also a crucial leadership role) will find the 6Cs of leadership informative. The 6Cs are not listed in any particular order but when taken together, they produce measurable outcomes and valuable results.

The 6Cs of an Effective Leader

1. Competence- You need to understand the core principles of leadership which are having a vision and motivating people towards that vision.

2. Commitment- Lead from the front and practise what you preach!

3. Contribution- Add value to the organisation, project or initiative that you are working on. Being a boss is different than being a leader! It’s not about a title; it’s about what you do!

4. Comprehension- In order to lead effectively, you must understand the culture, history and the objectives of the organisation and be able to communicate them effectively to all stakeholders.

5. Capability- There are numerous examples of the types of skills that a leader should have. However, influencing, negotiating, facilitating and communicating are always going to be key.

6. Code- The Nolan Principles (*openness, objectivity, honesty, leadership, integrity, selflessness, accountability) are an essential guide but tenacity, determination and persistence are equally as important in being an effective leader.

The 6Cs of an Effective Board Member

If you want to increase performance as a leader within an organisation then you need to ensure there are systems and processes to deliver good governance, but where does good governance come from? Clearly it is the board of directors. It follows that the more effective the board members are, the more effective governance will be. Under performance and failure was highlighted by the Commons Education Select Committee in a report in regards to the performance of schools. The report highlighted the lack of effective contribution of school governors and the need to pay professionally qualified clerks to support the governance of schools.

Schools are no different to organisations in the private or third sectors as the responsibility for failure lies at the top of the organisation. In a school, that responsibility lies with the governors. The governing body should be made up of individually and collectively competent members of the public. Every governor (trustee/director) should have a core set of competences around finance, running an organisation, education (or other sector specific skill) and human resources which they are able to evidence and execute effectively. There should also be specialists in particular skills areas like finance and law so that the overall complement of the governing body has the wide range of skills and expertise to run the affairs of each school.
So too on boards of all persuasions, there should be a balance of the right knowledge, skills and experience to ensure the organisation is successful in the long-term. The leadership of any organisation begins with the board and the first section of the UK Corporate

Governance Code advocates good leadership stating that: “The board’s role is to provide entrepreneurial leadership of the company within a framework of prudent and effective controls which enables risk to be assessed and managed.”

So what does an effective governor, board member or trustee look like? Here are the 6Cs of an Effective Board Member:

1. Competence – Has core skills in finance, legal, governance, general commercial understanding and human resources.

2. Commitment – Makes time to attend training, get inducted into the organisation, reads board papers, attends meetings and committees and takes time to understand the organisation.

3. Contribution – Makes an effective contribution at board and committee meetings. Makes a valuable contribution at events on behalf of the organisation and at away days.

4. Comprehension- Develops an understanding of the organisation and its activities, the history, culture and people.

5. Capability – Each board member should have good communication alongside analytical and strategic thinking skills.

6. Code – The Nolan Principles* identify a code of behaviour and to add to that code, board members should be sensitive and decisive.
Equipped with the 6Cs of both leadership and an Effective Board Member, why not consider stepping out of your comfort zone by applying to become a school governor or for an appointment on the board of a local charity? Both are ideal places to continue your development as a leader and are a great way to give back! You can also find out more about and apply for the Get On The Board Programme which trains young leaders in the principles of governance

The 6Cs of effective leaders and governance can add value not just to your board or organisation but when you apply them to yourself as a set of values as you pursue new ventures on the leadership horizon.

Karl George MBE, Managing director at the governance forum is a thought leader and internationally established consultant in governance. An accountant by profession and successful businessman, he is a visiting professor, established author and sought after conference speaker. Karl is the creator of the Effective Board Member Programmes (EBM) which now has over 500 graduates from nine countries worldwide. He works with boards and senior executives in the private, public and voluntary sectors to develop or redefine their corporate strategy, improve how high performing boards operate and to improve their governance. Visit for more information.