The 5 Cs in the Leadership Journey


The 5 Cs summing up the good life in Singapore are so well-known that even the young can rattle them off — Car, Condominium, Cash, Credit Card and Country Club Membership! If you have those 5 Cs in Singapore, you’re considered successful. The stark intensity of such materialism has provoked some thoughtful Singaporeans to express their concern. They speak and write about the need to have a less materialistic society, to educate the young about worthwhile social and moral values, to give life a spiritual dimension. They suggest another set of 5 Cs to redefine success — Caring, Concern, Compassion, Courteousness and Civility.

To quote Entrepreneurial ‘Evangelist’ Guy Kawasaki, ‘we need to make meaning, not just money’.

Over the last 14 years I’ve worked as a coach and mentor with organisational and small business leaders. I’ve also worked for two decades prior, in national and multinational companies. The most successful leaders I’ve met in all these years had something in common.

They were all sincere about their desire to do well, improve the business they are in, as well as their life outside work, and to help others to do well.  Clearly and simply, they aligned their efforts with positive intended outcomes, sought regular feedback about their performance, explored alternative viewpoints, and learned as much as they could to empower, up-level and develop themselves and provide the necessary resources to others.

Other clients who haven’t been so successful may also have wished for these same personal, business and lifestyle improvements – yet they became stuck along the way. They often held mixed motives around personal development, experienced conflicting desires and drives that interfered with clarity, focus and goal attainment and tended to blame circumstances or other people for their real or perceived failures.

If you’d prefer to be in the first group than the second, you might find the following ‘5Cs of Leadership’ to be useful points for reflection: I’ve found that at least some, if not most of these qualities, exist in each of the most successful executives and business owners I’ve worked with, throughout their careers.

The ‘5Cs of Leadership’:

  • Contribution: These leaders see themselves as difference makers, they like to see others develop, they often support charities (not just for tax write-offs), they engage in sponsorship, chair committees, offer mentoring, are generous and want to leave a legacy.
  • Creativity: They know that most people are more engaged when able to express their creativity and enjoy some level of autonomy; they encourage people to find creative ways to solve problems, and they understand – either intuitively or purposefully – that creativity and spontaneity are ‘the propelling forces in human progress’ (J.L. Moreno, 1989).
  • Connection: These leaders actively maintain their networks, dedicate time for friends and family, support groups outside of work, build business relationships in an informal as well as formal context, and they are often invited for public speaking engagements.
  • Celebration: They know that most people light up when celebrated, so they acknowledge the small wins as well as the big ones, aware that some enjoy the limelight while others prefer a personal congratulation. They acknowledge individual and team effort, building a collective story that holds people together. They celebrate learning – even when it comes from mistakes, and share some of the bounty when a windfall happens.
  • Conscious Evolution: Leaders who hold this as a priority for themselves have an advanced capacity for self-refection. They are open to new perspectives and ways of thinking, can balance a measured approach to decision-making with a keen sense of intuition, show willingness to take responsibility for their own mistakes or misperceptions and are able to let go of the attachment to ‘being right’.  Their power resides in their humility, and their capacity to tell the truth to themselves and others, while continuing to articulate and refine an inspiring vision, delivered with real commitment.

We know that leadership creates culture and culture creates performance – as a result of the priorities, choices, decisions and behaviours that arise in that culture.

What could be possible in your organisation, if any of the 5 Cs that are currently missing were to be introduced into your repertoire and into that of your leadership team?

Developing more conscious leaders and facilitating the emergence of a high-performance culture, requires the initial use of reliable, evidence-based tools to effectively diagnose the barriers to personal and business engagement.

Iris Group offers these tools, combined with a proven 7-step consulting approach to help people overcome those barriers, which may be personal, team-based, leadership-driven, procedural, legacy or a number of other factors – often in combination. Are you curious what kind of tools you could use and how these approaches might raise your organisational performance? You’re welcome to contact me for a confidential and obligation free conversation about how your organisation can benefit.

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High impact conversations that transform people and companies. Sue loves working with leaders on a mission, to untap their full potential. Her specialties include entrepreneurship, leadership, integration, transformation, and growth.


Phone: (02) 8860 6540
Level 5, 4 Columbia Court,
Baulkham Hills 2153 Sydney, Australia