Editor’s note: Joe Magno is Executive Director, the North Carolina Center of Innovation Network, which is a partner with WRAL TechWire.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – If you’ve ever shopped for a diamond you’re probably familiar with the Four C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carats. Each C is rated on a 1 to 10 scale. 

A diamond that rates highly in all four categories is rare and hard to come by. The qualities and ratings for each of the C’s are easily quantified and certifiable by experts using tools and techniques that have become universally accepted.  So, if you’re looking for a diamond you can compare the Four C’s and, with some research and some money can find the perfect diamond for your taste and pocketbook.

Finding and choosing good leaders for any business or organization, like searching for a diamond, can also be a challenge, especially today. Unfortunately, although there are surveys and tests that claim to be able to evaluate and quantify leadership qualities, for the most part, in the end measuring leadership is a much more difficult task. 

If you’re evaluating leaders or looking to find one you might want to keep the Four C’s of Leadership in mind.

  • Competence

Defined as the ability to do something successful or efficiently, most of the time this is the one of the Four C’s that is most is easily recognized, but often not fully appreciated. In judging competence these questions might be helpful: Does the individual have the subject matter knowledge and experience to understand the challenges that he or she might face?  Is the individual competent enough to know what he or she doesn’t know and seek out needed expertise when needed?

  • Credibility

Credibility is the quality of being trusted or believed. Most people have a hard time following someone that they don’t trust or can’t believe.  Real leaders understand that this quality goes deep and that it applies to more than just their subordinates, but also to their superiors and their broader constituency.  The basic questions when it comes to credibility are: “Do you trust this person?” “Are you comfortable with their view of the facts?”

  • Consistency

Some might call this one’s firmness of substance. Simply stated, real leaders must demonstrate that they will not change position on a whim and will maintain course as they move toward a goal making course adjustments based upon valid information for the good of those they lead and with an understanding of the overall impact.  Nothing’s more devastating to any company or organization than to have the leader change direction on a personal whim or for questionable or non-substantive reason.

  • Compassion

Webster defines compassion as the “sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress with a desire to alleviate it”.  In other words, “caring”.  For a real leader compassion doesn’t mean pity, nor does it mean empathy. Compassionate leaders do their best to understand the needs, desires, and capabilities of their people and are considerate their emotions whether personal or professional.