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resilience for leaders the 7 cs of resilience leadership coach anne koopmann

Resilience for Leaders – The 7 Cs of Resilience

So 2020/2021, what a time. We had to deal with concerns about jobs or finances. We had to deal with lockdown and isolation, kids home from school childcare closed, and a lot of different challenges along the way. Resilience is the keyword in all this. Resilience for leaders and how the 7Cs of resilience can help you!

I’m sure it’s been difficult for each and every one of us in a different way. For me personally, having my own business and a very young business, it definitely was challenging because I had to adapt how I do business. I had to move everything online really quickly, and a lot of organisations and corporations that I work with actually paused or stopped any work with me because they obviously had to fight their challenges and focus on something different.

Why resilience was important to me

I had to adjust how I do business and that felt challenging from time to time, but I’ve also been able to embrace the change. And it helped me to come up with new innovative ideas.

But I’ve also struggled personally. I found the isolation really hard. And here in Australia, I have been part of the most locked down city in the world. And, I found that it was really hard to not feel inspired, and it was difficult for me to keep my motivation up.

But what has helped me was to have my resilience support kit in place. Now resilience is a funny thing. We need it the most when things are really tough. But the time to work on it and build our resilience is all the other times when we’re feeling okay. So we wanna build our support kit so that it’s ready and there to help us. Whenever we face challenges, things get tough. Things happen to us that are out of our control.

As leaders it’s so important that we build our resilience support kit. We need our energy, not only for ourselves, but also for the people that we lead. So if things get tough or challenging, we need to be able to get back out really quickly so that we can also lead our team and help them to come out of the challenge.

What I’m sharing with you today are the strategies that will work for you, and also for your team. So once you have started to build your support kit, help your team to do the same, help them invest in these strategies and that way all of you will become more resilient for next year.

The 7Cs of Resilience 

I like to work with the seven Cs for resilience. That is a concept by Kenneth Ginsburg. I really liked this concept because often when people talk about resilience, we talk about coping skills, mental and emotional coping skills, for example. But for me, resilience and having a support kit in place actually means so much more. And we have to invest in more areas than just our coping skills.

So in this article, I want to run you through the seven Cs, what they mean, and also what you can do to build that resilience support kit.

So what are the seven Cs of resilience?

It’s about competence, confidence, connection, character contribution, coping, and control. Let me take you through one by one, and I will share with you a little bit about what’s behind it. What does it actually mean? And also what you can do to build it.

1: Competence 

So number one is competence, and that’s really knowing all our skills and what we are already doing really well. The things we’ve learned along the way, the things we’ve picked up during different jobs. And also the things we learned doing training, investing in training, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos and really all the competencies that we have learned and practised.

It’s about reflecting. What skills will help you when things get difficult? What are the skills and competencies you need in your role to do your role well? Start to list all of these and start to see, okay, are there any gaps?

Do you need to invest in some skills to really make sure that you are covered and that you can deal with any situation that you might face?

Here it’s not about knowing everything, but it’s about having problem solving skills and knowing the right people so that when things get tough, you know where to look things up, you know, how to solve and figure things out, or you know who to talk to.

To reflect on it. You can think about it. What are the things that you do really well? What are the things that come easy to you? What are the things that people come to you when they ask you for help? These can be signs for your special competencies and skills that you have learned along the way.

2: Confidence  

The second C is confidence, which means that you trust in your own abilities, that you really trust in your strength and that, you know, all that you’ve achieved already, all that you have accomplished and that, you know, and trust that whatever you have learned will help you figure things out, going forward, that you have what it takes.

So what helps here is to focus on your strength and really reflect on your strength. You can do a CliftonStrengths assessment, for example, or you can start to reflect on past achievements and past challenges and start to look at all the things you’ve already overcome or have achieved.


I want you to list out three things that you really like about yourself. Next, think about three achievements just off the past week. 

Three things that you’re proud of. And lastly, a key to building confidence is to put ourselves out of our comfort zone on a regular basis, taking small steps out of your comfort zone will teach you that you can deal with the unknown, that you are able to overcome little challenges that you set for yourself. 

That way. next time something big happens that was unforeseen, you know, I’ve done this before. I can do hard things.

So think about one thing you can do next week to step out of your comfort zone. This could be having a network meeting with someone you don’t know.

It could be signing up to your new course or class, or it could be talking to a stranger on the street.

What is one thing that will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone?

3: Connection  

Number three of the seven Cs is connection. For us to overcome any challenges in our life and to be really resilient, we need to have the feeling that we have people that have our back and that will catch us when we fall. We need a sense of belonging and security. We want a strong, supportive network.

So who are the people in your life, your friends, your family, your colleagues, your mentors, your peers, your manager, your team, who are the people in your life? What are the communities that you’re part of? Do you have any hobbies? Are you part of a club? Who are the people in your life that are there for you?

And as a bit of an exercise to really strengthen this is to reflect on all the different groups that you have and who are the key people that you can really rely on. And here I would look at your private life and your professional life because you need people that can understand all the sides of you and know you really well. So if things happen at work, have someone that understands what’s going on there, for example.

So reflect on key relationships that you have. And then, because relationships are a give and take, think about what you can do for the other person. How can you strengthen the relationships? So write down an action for each person in your safety network to see how you can do something nice for them or supportive for them to build and invest in that relationship.

It’s really important that we make sure we give as well. And if something then happens to you or you need help, they will be there. No questions asked.

4: Character  

The fourth C is your character. And that really means knowing your values, understanding what’s right or wrong, having a true connection to what you really care about and your guiding principles. That’s so important for resilience because it will help you to make the difficult decisions. It will help you to stay on your path.

It will help you to see the way forward when things get tough. It’ll motivate you to go back up again because you can connect it to your values and what you really truly care about. It also helps you to forgive yourself when you make mistakes because when you reflect back on your values and you reflect back on why you did the things you did, you will see that you’ve decided based on your values.

And yes, maybe things didn’t work out. Maybe there was a better way to do things, but your intentions were right. And often then it’s much easier to forgive ourselves and feel motivated to just try it again.

So, reflect on your values. What are your core values? What do you stand for? What are your non-negotiables?

If you want a little bit more help with that, make sure you check out episode number five of my podcast, where I talk about how you can lead with your values and in that episode I provide you steps on how you can develop your values. Then also, how can you live by your values and what actions you can take? Make sure you check out that episode as well.

5: Contribution  

The fifth C of the seven Cs resilience toolkit is the contribution. What is your contribution to the wellbeing of others or to the bigger good of the world? What is your why? What’s your purpose? And that is so important because if we know why we do the things that we do, if we know why we do hard things, if we know why it’s important to get back up again, we will be able to find the energy, find the motivation to get up again and try again.

To keep fighting for what we believe in for our work, for our team, me, for my business, when things got tough this year, I knew why I was doing the things that I was doing. So I pivoted, I changed my direction. I found different ways to serve my clients. Because that was my bigger why.

So understanding what you stand for. What do you want to be part of?

And to do that, you can start to reflect on your passions, things that you really care about that excites you and energise you, you can reflect on people that you admire for their contribution. And what about that did you admire. Starting to find some clues of what are the bigger causes that you care about?

And it doesn’t have to be changing the world. It could also just be to have an impact on the people that you lead or the people that are in your life. How do you want to make people feel when they interact with you? What’s the change you want to help to create?

Finding your purpose takes a little while. So keep reflecting on that, making notes and just keep adding to it and changing it up. At one point, you will feel quite certain about your purpose. And it will help you to succeed and persevere in difficult times.

6: Coping  

Number six is coping and these are the traditional coping strategies that a lot of people talk about when we discuss resilience. Here, it’s about how do you cope and how do you release stress mentally, emotionally, and physically? How do you take care of these three elements of yourself?

Start to reflect mentally. What can you do to lift the load of your mind? What can you do to write down difficult tasks, to delegate, to prioritise your days? What can you do to lighten the load? How can you reduce the stress on your mind?

And it is closely connected to your emotional coping strategies.

A big strategy is mindfulness, meditation. How do you calm down when things are tough? Who are the people that you can talk to? Make sure that you talk to them regularly. What are the strategies you can implement?

And then physically it’s about how well do you move your body? How well do you sleep and rest? And obviously what do you eat and put inside of your body?

Think about these things – mentally, emotionally, and physically. How can you build strategies that help you to relax and reduce your stress? And here it’s also so important that we do that before things get tough so that our body and our mind are in the best shape possible. And we have the most energy to deal with difficult times.

7: Control  

And lastly, the final C is control. I just want to remind you that you have control over your thoughts, your decisions, your actions, and your behaviours. You can change things.

Often though, we worry about things that are way outside of our control. We waste emotional energy to worry about things that we can’t influence or to be angry about decisions other people have made.

What you can choose though, is to not worry about the things that you have no influence or control over and focus your energy on the things that you can change. This will allow you to have enough emotional energy for your own causes and your work and for the things that matter.

If we waste energy on things that we can’t even impact, you won’t be ready and prepared for things if they get tough on your end. In the last few years, a lot of things happened that were out of our control. A lot of decisions were made about our lives, our lockdown, and they were not necessarily in our control. But what we could control is how do we deal with that? What are the decisions we make for us, for our family, for our jobs and yes that is difficult.

A key exercise you can do here is to start to reflect whenever you feel overwhelmed, write down all the things that you worry about, everything in your mind, that you’re worried about, angry, frustrated, whatever causes you to feel a certain way, write it all down.

And then start to cluster these things into three different groups: into your circle of concern, your circle of influence and your circle of control. The difference here is that your circle of control are things that you can, right away, address, change, or take action on. These are things that you have in your full control to change. These might be things like your schedule, when you wake up, what you eat, what you do in a day, how you structure your day.

Then you have the circle of influence. And these are things that you can influence and impact over time by working with the right people, talking to the right people, by inspiring others to take action. These are the things that you have an impact on, but they’re not fully in your control. You might have to work with other people to get these things done.

And then you have the circle of concern. Those are all the things that matter to us because a lot of things out there matter to us, but we actually do not have any control or influence over them. We can’t influence those decisions.

The circles of concern in detail – exercise 

So once you’ve clustered all of the things that are on your mind into these three categories, then what I want you to do with that is:

1) The circle of control category. Take action, straightaway, address the things that worry you and find a solution straight away.

2) Circle of influence, define actions. Who do you need to talk to? What do you need to do? How can you start to drive change in that area?

3) Circle of concern, everything that you’ve written here, I want you to release, let go. These are things that you can’t change. So even if you spend days and hours being upset, being angry, being frustrated, worrying about it, and being scared, you can’t change it. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you don’t have any impact on that. So wasting your energy will take away energy from the things that matter and the things that you can actually control.

So release the things in the circle of concern, focus on your circle of control and circle of influence. That will help you to be more resilient, to have more energy, to bounce back from difficult times and try again and persevere whenever things feel tough.

Reflection on the 7Cs of resilience 

So these were the seven Cs. To recap, we talked about the seven seas for your resilience support kit. The seven CS are competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. If you start to invest a little bit in each area over time, you will build that support kit so that when things get tough, you’re well-equipped to overcome them and will build resilience as a leader.

Reflect on the 7Cs, remind yourself of your competencies, of your strengths, build your confidence, review your values, your why what’s your contribution? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Talk to the people in your support network. Use the strategies of your coping skills. And question whether what you worried about, or what you’re trying to achieve is actually in your circle of control or influence.

Learn more about becoming a resilient leader with my powerful 2-step framework for managers and business owners who want to lead with resilience and self-belief (especially in times of uncertainty). Check out the course here.

the resilient leader series leadership coach anne koopmann

The Resilient Leader Series for leaders and business owners

Final thoughts 

When things are tough, it’s also important. And that’s part of your emotional coping techniques to give yourself a rest, to allow yourself to be frustrated, to allow yourself to process your emotions.

If we try too hard and we go again and again, we will just exhaust ourselves. It’s okay sometimes to just take a break. And not want to do anything at all. That is totally okay. You have my permission to take a break, allow yourself and give yourself the space you need, and then reflect on your 7Cs of resilience. Look at your support kid and start to build again.

I really hope that these seven strategies were helpful for you to build your resilience, support kit.  Comment below which of the 7Cs resonated the most with you.

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