The 5 C’s of Passion Driven Leadership

“Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had the distinguished honor of giving the keynote address this week at the mid winter conference for the Utah Association of  Middle and High School Principals. What a pleasure it was to be in the presence of such passionate and dedicated leaders.

It was the perfect place to debut a new framework for leadership and systems improvement I have been working on called:

The Five C’s of Passion Driven Leadership

I believe passion to be  the single most important asset we have as educators, education leaders, and educational organizations. Passion differentiates us consistently over time, and  it needs to be nurtured, evolved, and invigorated by the people entrusted to keep it true and alive.

Here’s a peek at the presentation and the talking points for what turned out to be a fantastic and  “passion driven conversation

  • Clear Direction: The future may be made up of many uncertain factors but the passionate will not only survive ; they will thrive. Let’s make sure we paint a vivid picture of that future immersed in choice, leveraged with opportunity, and  fueled by passion.
  • Clarity Focus: Ambiguity is the enemy of change. The resistance we feel in moving people forward dissipates when we articulate the steps and behaviors need for the entire community to move towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals.
  • Capacity: Everyone has the capacity to learn therefore everyone has the capacity to change.  It is important not to ensure the work ahead is “easy” but to make the hard work they will be doing easier by promising the conditions that build confidence and competence are present in every experience and interaction.
  • Credibility: We live in an information abundant but trust-scarce world. People want to know they can trust the individuals who define and design their future. To garner that trust, leaders must “go first” so that we are able to grant those who follow us the things they desire most – empathy, familiarity, insight, and compassion. Show them do not tell them what the future holds- Go there  first!
  • Courage: In times of big, complex change; it seems logical that we need big complicated solutions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Less is more. The courageous leader is not the one who says yes to every new program, initiative, and invention. The courageous leader says no letting go of all that does not matter.

These 5C’s taken together are what set apart a good school from a great school. Any leader who decides to adopt this level of intensity and conviction will be valued and admired.

I closed the speech with the following call to A.C.T. which stands for:

A.- Action
C – Change
T- Time.

As you consider each of these passion driven principles,on any of these principles and practices which ones:

A – take immediate action on
C- consider letting go of, changing direction or course
T- devote the most time, talent, and resources to

Passion is not a nicety it is a necessity. It’s important that we recognize them, nurture them, and let them know that they matter. To all the passion driven leaders I have the honor and privilege of working with and learning from, I have two final words for you:YOU MATTER!


To support the passion driven leaders willing to commit to this work, the following resources were shared:

Books Referenced in the Talk:
 Passion Articles:
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  • davencvps67

    As always nice job.  The 5 Cs are right on target and provide a great road map for setting educational leaders on the right course with the right mindset.  I would add a 6th C as a non-negotiable . . .Compassion.  Change is inevitable and leaders must courageously move “out of the box” and lead people, but as we all know, change is hard for many and a clear understanding of how that change affects each stakeholder is needed.  Personally, I think compassion is a by-product of passion driven leadership anyway.  Love the ACT piece to give it “legs” and require them to move. Great job! You Matter!

  • Angela Maiers

    That means the world coming from a passionate leader like your David. It was hard trying to find just the right “C’s”- Compassion and empathy definitely a must!!! 

  • Bruce Sallan

    That baby photo is just too good! Wish I could hear/see your presentation too, Teach! AND, we at #DadChat get YOU in 2 weeks for #YouMatter and more…Can’t wait. I’m off to ski (again)…there are two C’s there – one is mine, the other is my wife’s description of me: Courage and CRAZY!

  • Michele Price

    Angela, beautiful slidedeck, I can just imagine hearing you speak 😉

  • Douglas E Rice

    LOVE this article! Especially the emphasis on clarity. Transference of passion is contingent on engagement with the ideas. And you can’t engage with what you don’t understand. Effective passion has clarity. Very good insight!

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