Nowadays, all business talks revolve around entrepreneurship and, consequently, leadership skills and techniques. It seems that the human race is on the right track with these mandatory skill sets.

Leadership is one of the hottest topics in every field, from educational institutions, over great corporations, and the world’s leaders.

Leadership is finally seen as a mandatory skill for success and necessary characteristic for a prosperous future.

Finally, leadership is accepted on a daily level for numerous activities. Moreover, it’s seen everywhere: from helping the elderly crossing the streets to leading the employees to innovations and reaching their fullest potential.

Many still argue is true leaders are born, or they can be created. Naturally, many claim that true leaders are born, while others claim that leaders can be made by putting ‘potential leaders’ in a challenging situation. From those situations, they will raise and reach true leadership potential. Therefore, some people can be true leaders without even knowing that they are.

Although scientists and business leaders will continue giving the best possible answer to this question (whether leaders can be created or not), the practice gave the world an easy to follow formula on how to recognize leaders.

Therefore, today’s leaders are confident, connected, committed, and courageous. Each trait leads to the following one, and they can’t indeed exist without each other. But, how do they really co-exist, and how are they recognized in practice?

In this article, the four C’s will be further explained, with clear points on how to recognize those characteristics in people and how they are shaped.

Before we dive into theoretical and evidence-based facts on leadership and famous four C’s, let’s see how leadership works today in reality.

For a better understanding of leadership and four C’s, we will present Steve, our imaginary CEO protagonist.


To understand how leadership works, what leadership is, and why it can be so difficult to demonstrate it or achieve it, we will use Steve, a persona, as an example. In a nutshell, this is Steve:

  • Steve is the CEO of a financial company with 200 employees
  • As a CEO he has a team of Vice Presidents for Sales, Marketing, Finance, and Human Resources
  • Steve is in his 40s, and he has been running his business for 12 years so far

With company growth, certain things had to change. The entire structure had to be changed, and reflecting on the previous period had to be done. Moreover, Steve had to think about his employees, and most importantly, his core team.

After days of thinking, re-thinking, watching employees’ performances, he came to one conclusion – his VP of Sales isn’t performing.

After a thorough evaluation, he knew that he needs to be fired. Having a thriving company and VP who isn’t performing? Steve was in for a rough ride and the same could be said about his sales VP.

This and similar situations just mean that lower management was doing a better job than the higher staff. Again, after days of thinking and deciding, Steve finally accepted the fact that he needs to fire the guy.

However, the VP was the nicest dude in the world, so firing him was really difficult. Surprisingly, three months later, he still hadn’t fired him.

This was strange.

Being the CEO of a fast-growing company comes with numerous daily challenges.

Just starting your own company requires commitment and a certain level of craziness. So, a CEO can’t be a wimp.

So, what was the issue?


The truth is that Steve, our persona, was just a normal human being.

Just like any other person on the street. And he was struggling between what was suitable for the company and what was humane to do. What’s the key take away from this?

The main take away is that regardless of your age, position, role within the company, your status, and your title, in order to get the essential work done, you need to deal with long and hard conversation, create accountability, and even inspire action.

To fire someone, one needs to be presented as a powerful and also appealing person that will get people quickly to open up, follow, and trust.

In order for someone to have amazing people on hand, A-list performers, one needs to lead them and care about them and to think about their growth as well.

Moreover, one needs to connect with them in a way which they would actually feel the care. This must be done in good and bad times because that’s what real leaders do. So, why was it so difficult for Steve to fire his employee?

Steve knew that his employee was able to deliver more, but he also knew that he himself needs to provide more and to be better and motivate his employer. In a nutshell, real leaders are confident, connected, committed, and courageous and they share that energy with their environment.

Generally, being a leader is not the same as being a boss. Leaders not only command but they are the first to exhibit an example of the desired work ethic. True leaders are usually entrepreneurs who work hard to make a positive impact on society and their team. Leaders are not just about generating revenue.

Check out this nifty article to find out what the roles of leaders are in business.


Confident leaders are happy that they are leading. In this role, they perform the best. They love dealing with daily challenges, and they have mesmerizing “can do “attitude that can easily inspire others to action as well.

This side of leadership is also tricky because confidence comes within. Steve lacked confidence. He vigorously struggled with this element. Now, someone may say that this was impossible, considering how successful Steve was.

Surprisingly, this is common, actually.

Steve worked hard. He worked beyond working hours and every weekend because he wanted to prove himself and the others that he is a hard-working person.

During that time, Steve linked his confidence with work. Unless he was working, he wasn’t feeling secure. His work actually became his safe harbor.

Again, this doesn’t mean that he is weak. No, he has a massive strength in him. He knew where he wanted to do and what he needs to do to get there. He really worked hard toward that future.


Steve was loved, and his team really cared for him. He had something special that basically pulled people to him. Someone would call this power charisma. Moreover, Steve really cared about his team.

He knew that he could trust them. So, he let them be independent in decision making.

Moreover, he pushed them to disagree with him. He firmly believed that’s important to encourage people to share their point of view.

After all, no one can know how valuable an idea can be unless it’s sharing with others. In that same manner, Steve believed that employees could do amazing things for the company as long as they are asked about some issues.

Again, in this area, Steve had room to grow: he wasn’t always direct with people.

Therefore, he tends to procrastinate when it came to challenging conversations.


 This element of leadership was a little confusing for Steve. The truth is that he knew clearly what he needs to do to grow his firm. He had to:

  • engage people, and
  • to ask for help when needed

On the other hand, it seemed that he was scared of something? The truth is that Steve wasn’t clear about the number of things that had to be done.

Moreover, he didn’t have a reliable and tested process for staying focused on the most important things.

The focus would ensure accountability and driving follow-through. So, in a nutshell, not firing the head of sales sent a mixed message to his team. In team culture, everyone usually knows how much every team member delivers. Therefore, they knew that the VP is lacking.

If the CEO knows it and does nothing about it, how can the CEO expect respect and commitment from his employees? Sending mixed signals also leads to severe questions – How serious was Steve about the firm’s growth?


This is where Steve had the most space to grow. In general, people don’t find it easy to take risks.

They don’t feel comfortable outside of their comfort zone, and the unknown makes them uncomfortable. The problem with the comfort zone is that it eventually becomes unbearable.

Without knowing, people are actually experiencing the lack of emotional courage, when they are scared to do something new and uncommon or something completely different.

Steve was no exception, although he was a prominent business person and the CEO of a fast-growing company. Steve wanted to avoid risk and the feeling of vulnerability.

This is why he found it difficult to talk with his VP about his poor performance.

Aligning with unknown and uncomfortable situations makes it hard for people to tell the truth and make quick decisions, or any decisions whatsoever.

So far, it was clear that Steve was strong on “connected to others,” and “committed to the purpose.” But he was weaker in “confident in yourself” and “emotionally courageous.”

Steve’s connection to his VP of sales was opposite Steve’s commitment to the success of his team and company.

Besides, his confidence in himself and his emotional well-being and strength weren’t strong enough to break the tie. This is the perfect recipe for disaster.

But, how can this disaster be stopped, prevented, or fixed? Can it be fixed at all?


After 25 fruitful years of working with professionals from different industries and backgrounds, Peter Bregman decided to collect his stories and experience and create an ultimate book on how leaders can be better.

Therefore, Leading With Emotional Courage was born, and Peter explained on real-life examples of how people can have:

  • hard conversations
  • create accountability, and
  • inspire action

Moreover, Peter inspired leaders to re-think their commitment and confidence. After just a few lines of reading, it becomes clear that leadership, based on Peter’s experience and expertise, is not about what you say or do, or how fast.

Real leadership is about willingness to experience the risk, uncertainty, and discomfort of saying or doing it. Simply stated, if you are ready to feel everything, you can do anything.

After 25 years of working with numerous leaders, Peter found that four C’s are a mutual frame for successful leaders.

Great leaders must have confidence, connection to others, commitment to a purpose, and significant emotional courage.

Interestingly, it turns out that these are the virtues that people search for in others. They love to admire people with this characteristic. And one who has all four C’s will inspire action.


Four C’s stands for leadership patterns. After years of practice, Peter noticed four different characteristics in leaders. Four C’s positions for leaders that are:

  1. Confident
  2. Connected
  3. Committed, and
  4. Courageous

It seems only natural to examine how Peter could help Steve with his situation.

Based on his book, podcasts, and similar examples, Peter would help Steve by doing the following.


Firstly, painful frustration can be stopped by working on Steve’s emotional courage.

Since he needed improvement in that area, strengthening his emotional courage is the first step.

This can be achieved by taking small risks while feeling the emotions that he tried to avoid.

Of course, this should be done in a controlled environment and not aggressively, but instead, step by step. With each risk, Steve would practice and learn how to deal with those emotions, and he would feel safe.

At the same time, he would be encouraged because he is learning to deal with distressing emotions.

Moreover, he learns how to react to them. With each step, his confidence becomes stronger. With more significant confidence, he is ready to take bigger risks.

In a short time, Steve would feel comfortable to take more significant steps, even though he may never have felt ready for such drastic moments. In reality, a short time is usually a period of three months. This approach is identical to the 21/90 rule.

Famous 21/90 rules mean that:

It takes 21 days to create a habit

It takes 90 days to create a lifestyle

Practicing emotional courage would get Steve to the level where he would be finally ready to take the big step and deal with professional emotions.

Secondly, prepared so well, Steve would quickly fire his VP of sales, thanks to his compassion, humanity, and natural care.

Thirdly, the VP would probably be happy about Steve’s decision because, in a way, he probably was unhappy and just waited for Steve’s move.

In reality, people who have a strong connection to others can transmit their views and emotions through daily conversations and manners.

That way, they can easily send the other person signals about their opinion in them.

Would Steve enjoy the firing process?

Probably not. He would probably feel uncomfortable and nervous, but that would be normal.

Whenever a person steps into something unfamiliar, frightening, and different, this feeling will appear. Besides, trying to do anything emotionally demanding calls for a dose of stress.

These feelings are not necessarily bad. It just means that emotional courage takes time and practice. Steve would arise from this type of conversation as a real winner, mastering all four elements.

After building his emotional courage and taking smaller but numerous risks, Steve learned a lot about himself. In a way, he was the better version of himself, after stepping into the unknown.

He was more confident in himself his actions, more connected to his team, including the form VP, more committed to his purpose, and more emotionally courageous.


 Most people are great, at least in one of the famous C’s. Maybe two in the best-case scenario. But, for a true leader to inspire action among people, four C’s must be 100% present. Leaders must share their confidence with others so they can easily connect.

Sharing confidence and commitment to purpose with others leads to inspiring actions. People, especially those who inspire to be recognizable leaders, have to learn to deal with their emotions and show emotional courage.

Only with emotional courage, one can truly be driven to reach its goal and fulfill its true potential. Missing personal development can cost people their personal and professional life. Emotions are present in every area of life.

Therefore, it should be imperative to build emotional courage in everyone. Not only corporate leaders need emotional courage. Everyone needs emotional courage. After all, there are far more employees than employers.

Emotional courage is even more important in leadership roles within companies and among those who hate conflict. Approval of the crowd won’t help anyone develop their potential or enable personal growth.

Significant leadership roles are demanding, result-driven, and usually rigorously organized.

These roles are always bringing unusual situations and various advantages. Leadership roles often bring stress, undesirable outcomes, and conflicts.

People who are into management are usually seeking personal development. In most cases, they don’t need the approval of the crowd. If they need any support, they have to practice four C’s.

Since practicing four C’s isn’t athletic training, it has to be done carefully, with a professional, strategically, step by step. Only with the proper plan can proper results be achieved.

To avoid personal failure, emotional courage must be practiced by taking small risks every day. That way, one can get emotions, actions, and reactions under control.

As Peter would say: “To lead effectively — really, to live effectively — you must be confident in yourself, connected to others, committed to purpose, and emotionally courageous.”

Great Leaders are Confident, Connected, Committed, and Courageous

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