How To Put The 7 C’s Of Leadership To Good Use

by  Jane Perdue  |  Leadership Development
How to Put the 7 C’s of Leadership to Good Use

The beginning of a new year, coupled with chilly, wet weather that traps me indoors, always prompts me to revisit old friends – people, places, habits – with whom I’ve lost touch for whatever the reason.

In rummaging through the bits and pieces of my life, I was delighted to rediscover my 7 C’s Of Leadership.

Delight dueled with disappointment in myself for letting talking and teaching about the package of capability, character, cognition, commitment, compassion, confidence, and connection go unpracticed.

Because many lists of leadership traits are cumbersome, the 7 C’s approach is a helpful shortcut in leading ourselves and others—succinct enough to be remembered yet deep enough in hard and soft skills to impact both thoughts and actions.

Leaders help people turn on their internal lights and allow their skills and abilities to shine brightly.
~ Anonymous

Introducing my old friend to others is in my routine once again. Here’s hoping you enjoy the re-introduction!

7 C’s Of Leadership

  1. Capability – You dare yourself to stretch the limits of your potential and inspire those around you to do the same. You practice accountability with yourself as well as those around you. You’ve gotten comfortable oscillating between collaborating and competing, being confident and humble, and knowing when to keep control and when to empower others. You know when to go fast and when to go slow. You equally value people, principles and profits, not sacrificing one for the other. You are skilled at the fundamentals of conducting business—planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. You walk the leadership walk by bringing a win-win orientation, trust, respect, motivation, inspiration and a feeling of collaboration and partnership.
  2. Character – You walk the talk for being good and doing well. You’ve chosen to be a role model for integrity, ethical behavior, authenticity, and transparency. You have a moral center and radiate positive energy and determination. You’re self-disciplined and treat those with or without power the same. You invite the elephant in the room to dance. You’re unafraid to show you care. You are tolerant of and embrace differences. You embrace possibility with childlike wonder, practice inclusion without judgment, and turn dreams into reality.
  3. Cognition – You’re self-aware and pro-actively use your self-knowledge to relate to, and interact with, others. You know what you want to do and be. You know your strengths and put them to good use for both yourself and in service to others. You know your weakness, and work to minimize any negative impact they may have. You seek out feedback and reflect on what you hear. You practice simplicity yet know when to take the deep dive. You know when to be mindful and when to take action. You manage to allow stability while stimulating change. You celebrate and have fun. You set boundaries and appreciate what’s mandatory and what’s discretionary.
  4. Commitment – You hold yourself responsible and assist others in doing the same. You seek out. You live up to your potential.  You pursue mutual understanding and respect even in the presence of opposing opinions. You touch hearts and balance that with solid management practices to assure the work is done. You dedicate yourself to finding connection, communicating, reaching for your potential, celebrating, and being courageous, sincere, caring and authentic.
  5. Compassion – You smile, laugh, and are fearless in showing love and joy. You know when to speak with candor and when to use diplomacy. You care for yourself, your team, organization, community, family and whatever else you hold near and dear, and are secure enough to show that you care. You display empathy without sacrificing accountability and ownership. You know when to enforce the rules and when to bend them.
  6. Confidence – You take a stand for what’s good and right, even if doing so is unpopular. You show grace under pressure. You acknowledge your fears without letting them rule your life. You are joyfully spirited. You show strength of mind and will. You believe in yourself. You know you bring value and help others believe the same about themselves. You make a positive difference.
  7. Connection – You know the values and beliefs that are important to you, and you practice them in your daily living in doses large and small. You’re there for others. You make the time to communicate and connect with others. You actively listen to them with your head and heart because understanding their point of view is important. You say thank you to someone every day. You share grins and gratitude. You freely share what you know. You listen actively, engage in two-way dialogues, and assure messages are accurately conveyed.

Who in your circle would benefit from knowing about the 7 C’s of Leadership?

Which of the 7C’s resonates most for you? Tell me about it in the comments!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jane  |  11 Jan 2016  |  Reply

I love your old friends, thanks for sharing them with us. You asked, Which of the 7C’s resonates most for you? Every one of them is necessary in leadership and followship – but a few of them stand out for me. The absolute non-negotiables are Character and Commitment. I’m not just saying that because they are the ones I focus on most, even though that’s where I want to always be on my game. If Cognition were related to having a quick brain, I would fail miserably, but I like that it means self-aware and seeking feedback. I wish more people would give me feedback – honest feedback. I think another level of cognition, then is having confidence. Without it, you wouldn’t want feedback, not really. I’m working on the compassion. I am a natural born encourager. You would think I would also be born with the compassion gene, but alas, I was not. I should get to work now so I can fulfill my commitments.

Jane Perdue  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Jane — I love that you’ve befriended my old friends, and thank you for your warmth and candor. I’m with you, in that if I was forced to select only one of the Cs, I would pick character. With it, so many other things are possible. Without it, well…maybe someone could get a job on Wall Street. (pardon my badness!) Big thanks for sharing!

Deborah Costello  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Hi Jane! Love this piece and want to add two of my old friends, creativity and collaboration! Great “C” ing again here!


Jane Perdue  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Deb — love’em…great addition to all the ways to “C” leadership!!

Gary Gruber  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

I wrote a similar “Seven C’s of Competent Leadership” some time ago. If you’re interested, you can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/jhvm39x


Jane Perdue  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Good stuff…thanks for sharing the link, Gary!

Donna Boehme  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Jane, v nice piece. This is a great topic for chief compliance officers (CCOs) and other compliance professionals,who lead teams under the most challenging of conditions. I agree with your selected 7, but for this group I would also want to see Courage, Collaboration and Communication incorporated. Perhaps you might be interested in contributing a blog post on this topic for the CCO audience on our blog, available through our website. If so please let us know. Very relevant to our clients and networks.

Jane Perdue  |  13 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Donna — thanks for your kind words and for sharing. Agree that courage, collaboration and communication are all important parts of leadership. I’ll follow up in an email regarding your invitation to share a post with your CCO audience.

John Smith  |  12 Jan 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Jane – good post and an excellent list … the responses show that you have hit on something important. Let the “C”s continue to pile on:) …

I was personally torn between “Character” and “Commitment” at first for the most important “C”, but like others, Character wins out, given the way you define that quality. Much more active and engaged, so incorporates what I find important about Commitment.

Sometimes when Commitment is lacking, the other sterling qualities seem to fade quite a bit.

Maybe we shouldn’t try to pick just one as the most important … they all work nicely together:).

BTW, someday you need to explain to me how one becomes a “well-mannered maverick” … does that mean you have mastered the art of calling someone’s ideas idiotic with a smile on your face and without them taking offense:)?


Jane Perdue  |  13 Jan 2016  |  Reply

John — it turns out I’m finding a multiple of “C” words to describe different facets of leadership. ‘Tis time, it appears, to expand beyond seven, despite that being such a lovely number (from my point of view *smile*). I agree with you that force-ranking isn’t going to work with the “C’s” — they’re a bit like a pile of Jenga blocks that build on, and support, one another. And, as to the “well-mannered maverick” part, that’s going to be a fun explanation! Thanks as always for weighing in and making the discussion richer!

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