Societal Leadership And The 4C Framework

Featured Article From the QMD Leadership CMC By Sterling Eddy

A Call for Better Leaders. Better Futures
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sterling Eddy, FCPA, FCMA, FCMC, is Founder of LeadWell Futures Inc.

He has created enterprises, been CEO of organizations, and held governance roles in several businesses and non-profit organizations. In recent years, Sterling has been the Chair of VizworX Inc., Governance Chair of Three Farmers Foods Inc., and Chair of the Governance and Finance/Audit committees for Carbon Management Canada.

Sterling’s distinguished career in leadership, governance and consulting has helped him gain deeper insights into the complex leadership, management and ethical issues, both in business and across the wider spectrum of society. His enduring passion for better leadership and unwavering ethics has also driven his commitment to continuous learning and development.

Sterling believes we need better leadership, and that all of us can be the leaders needed to build better futures. That has propelled him to promote Societal Leadership and the 4C framework for Better Leaders. Better Futures.


In this article, I reflect on the leadership challenges we face and hope to stimulate thought and action on what I refer to as Societal Leadership. I believe that our individual lives and our society are the consequences of our own conscious behaviours. So, if we are the architects of our humanity, then we must act to make it better. By unlocking the leadership potential within each of us, we can contribute to a future that benefits us all.

We are experiencing a unique moment in history, perhaps a new era in the course of our humanity. The scale and speed of both the challenges and the opportunities we face may exceed anything we have seen in the past 100 years. Indeed, some of the challenges may seem formidable.

Prevalent today is the COVID-19 pandemic and the extreme uncertainty it creates, including the adverse effects on our socioeconomic situation and our personal lives. We are also confronted with the unpredictability of the realities climate change may bring, the increasing challenges we are witnessing in our democratic systems and civil society, and the incredible transformations that are occurring with the rapid advancements of new technologies.

Each of us is in a position to lead and influence change in our world, be it in our own lives, our communities, or our institutions. Our actions today will help shape the destiny of all beings on earth for lifetimes to come. To lead well, we must live well. By clarifying your ethics and purpose, you determine what is most important to you. You will unveil and unleash your leadership potential, and become a contributing force for positive change.

To meet the challenges we face, and seize the opportunities that exist, we need to be Societal Leaders.

What is Societal Leadership?

Societal leadership represents how we lead and how we live. Forged with unyielding ethics and values, Societal leadership imbues a powerful sense of responsibility for securing a stable, secure and sustainable future for humankind and nature, everywhere in our interconnected world.

Many who hold formal leadership positions identify with their role, and their title. It dominates their identity. They can become focused on achieving the goals and objectives of their organizations and reaping the rewards of having done so. This does not have to occur without regard for the greater good of society and all its stakeholders.

Societal leadership encompasses all of us. It’s everybody’s business. It is not the domain of a select few, nor should it be.

Societal leaders provide guidance to move us us forward. They connect us and inspire us to create a world that is compassionate and just. Working together in a collective process, societal leaders will help unlock the ultimate powers of people to achieve real, sustainable and positive change.

The true heroes of leadership are often ordinary people who get extraordinary things done, creating a better future.

Societal leadership is developed through the adoption and continuous development of what I refer to as the 4C Leadership Framework.

The 4C Framework

As a founder and CEO of the LeadWell Foundation and the LeadWell Collaborative Inc., I wrote a whitepaper entitled LeadWell for Life: Navigating the Cs. Its aim was to explore the origins and challenges of the leadership and to offer a framework for building personal leadership capacity. It emerged from presentations I was giving on Better Leaders. Better Futures.

The 4Cs- Competence, Character, Conviction, and Courage represent the critical capacities and traits required for ethical and authentic leadership. The 4Cs are meant to be inclusive, understandable terms that are can be learned and nurtured.

The 4Cs represent the organic roots of a leader-in fact; they form the foundation of a good human being. Where one or more of the Cs is lacking, the ability to lead well and to experience our full potential as people is potentially compromised.
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The following provides a description of the 4Cs:
  1. Competence (What a leader is capable of doing) Societal leaders must possess the experience, knowledge, and personal development to maintain skills, confidence and good judgment to ensure sound decisions are made, appropriate and acceptable actions are taken, and that their roles are performed effectively and responsibly. While Competence is critical to success in whatever we do, the very heart and soul of leadership lies in the Character, Conviction and Courage of true Societal Leaders. These are by far the most integral to both life and leading ethically.
  2. Character (What defines the leader as a good person) Leaders of exemplary character stand for something bigger than themselves. They demonstrate intractable personal attributes that consistently guide their actions and their behaviours, regardless of irresistible temptations, overwhelming challenges, or undue influences.
  3. Conviction (How a leader shows their ethical authenticity and moral fortitude) Societal leaders are authentic human beings that embody the universal principles of ethics and unwavering personal integrity. They are values-driven and morally consistent, assuming a shared responsibility for our society, our world, and nature.
  4. Courage (Taking a powerful stand for what is right, proper and just regardless of the consequences and challenges) Above all, the first three are meaningless unless there is the courage necessary to do what is right, proper and just at all times and in all circumstances. Societal leaders show true courage, being steadfast in creating what is in the best interest of people, our society and our world. They stand firm and resolute on ethics, values and principles, while genuinely caring for others.
Societal leadership is manifested in our capacity to step forward to envision a better and more sustainable society, and then proliferate those actions that move us there. As much as societal leaders are action-oriented, they must be willing to listen. They connect with us, act in concert with us, and inspire us.

Make no mistake- leadership is not inherent in or assigned by title, by education, or by profession. You can establish yourself as a Societal Leader- if not in a certain defined role- but in attitude and respect, and by standing up and doing whatever it takes to fulfill your duty and your destiny in life.

Only you can determine your purpose, know what you want to do, what makes you feel productive, and what you’re meant to do. Accept your freedom to express yourself. Step forward and become a Societal Leader.

Robert Coles, a Harvard professor, wrote a book entitled Lives of Moral Leadership (2001). The following passage from his book may offer some motivation and encouragement when you think about Societal Leadership and your role.

“We need heroes, people who can inspire us on to purposeful action-and from time to time, we are called upon to be those heroes, leaders for others, either in a small day-to-day way, or on the world’s larger stage. At this time in America, and in the rest of the world, we seem to need moral leadership especially, but the need for moral inspiration is ever present.”

In summary, Societal Leadership, and embracing the 4Cs, will equip us to imagine a better world and make a positive difference. You will help define, defend and promote values and ideals that help us realize our shared goals and dreams.

Reject the old paradigms of leadership. Think bigger and don’t ask-“why don’t THEY do something? “ Because we are THEY! You are, every one of you, potential Societal Leaders.
News Quality Management Division 03/01/2021 12:00am CST

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