At the SECURITY 500 Conference in November 2022, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence and NBC News National Security Analyst Frank Figliuzzi spoke about what he calls the “Seven Cs of Values-Based Leadership.” All seven are pertinent, but just like there really aren’t Seven Seas (today we count about 50 different seas in the world), there are several more Cs that I submit are critical to leadership. (Don’t worry. I’m suggesting three more Cs, not 43.)
Figliuzzi identified the seven Cs as code, conservancy, clarity, consequences, compassion, credibility and consistency.
Code means understanding how you and your team conduct yourselves — what you do and what you don’t do, how you do it, and so on. Figliuzzi explained that Code emanates from the eight core values of the FBI, such as respect, integrity, accountability, fairness and “rigorous obedience to the Constitution.”
Conservancy is the collective effort to preserve and protect the inherent value of an environment. In values-based leadership, Figliuzzi emphasized, you “are the steward of something greater than yourself.” If you want to go into management at the FBI, you have to do a stint in internal affairs investigations, Figliuzzi said. This ensures that new managers will understand that everyone is accountable to someone else.
The third C, clarity, means that if you are going to expect people to adhere to specific values, you have to clearly communicate them and enforce them.
When rules are broken, the fourth C comes into play — consequences. Figliuzzi noted that there has to be a price to pay for violations, even if carrying out those consequences hurts you or the organization in the short term. Those consequences, especially if they are harsh, should be meted out with compassion, the fifth C.
The final two Cs are credibility and consistency. Credibility comes from your personal brand and reputation, which in turn flows from your personal value system. Figliuzzi posited that “the ultimate credibility is being able to investigate yourself.” Finally, consistency means not throwing out time-tested rules when faced with something new. “Stick with the values that got you this far,” Figliuzzi said.
Although values-based leadership is not my construct, I would respectfully offer three additional Cs: culture, change management and civility.
Culture, Peter Drucker is said to have declared, eats strategy for breakfast. If strategy is incompatible with the corporate culture, it gets regurgitated. Culture derives from behaviors that are modeled from the top and behaviors from anywhere through the organization that are rewarded or even tolerated. Characteristics of healthy cultures include a clear mission and values, transparency, staff development, diversity, high staff retention, regular communications and employee recognition.
At the SECURITY 500 Conference, I told Figliuzzi that the 7 Cs seemed to promote stasis, especially conservancy — retaining the status quo — and consistency, which might suggest rigidity. What about change management, which I would include as an additional C? Figliuzzi agreed, emphasizing that both consistency and conservancy shouldn’t lock organizations into inaction or stifle development.
My final suggestion is civility. Politics and social issues have permeated every part of our lives, even in the workplace. In addition, tempers can run high even when staff focus purely on business issues. Fostering an environment of respect and civility means staff won’t be intimidated from making valuable suggestions or threatened by someone whose social or political views differ.
That makes ten. But ten isn’t a magic number, either. I’m sure you can come up with many other relevant C terms.
The “10 Cs of Values-Based Leadership” doesn’t roll off the tongue like the 7 Cs does, nor am I suggesting that Figliuzzi change the name. Perhaps specific organizations can define their own 7 Cs of values-based leadership out of a larger pool of Cs. That would give a whole new meaning to the term “C-suite.”