Social Change Model of Leadership Development

The Social Change Model of Leadership Development approaches leadership as a purposeful, collaborative, values-based process that results in positive social change.  This approach to leadership is built on several key assumptions:

  • Leadership is concerned with effecting change on behalf of others and society.
  • Leadership is collaborative.
  • Leadership is a process rather than a position.
  • Leadership should  be value-based.
  • All students are potential leaders.
  • Service is a powerful vehicle for developing students’ leadership skills.

The 7 Cs are known as the 7 values or dimensions that synergistically become leadership for social change.  

  1. Consciousness of self and others through self reflection means being aware of the values, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs that motivate one to take action, including how one understands others;
  2. Congruency means thinking, feeling and behaving with consistency, genuineness, authenticity, and honesty toward others;
  3. Commitment implies intensity and duration. It requires a significant involvement and investment of one’s self in the activity and its intended outcomes. It is the energy that drives the collective effort;
  4. Collaboration is the primary means of empowering others and self through trust. Collaboration can occur when one has trust in the diversity of multiple talents and perspectives of the group members and the power of that diversity to generate creative solutions and actions;
  5. Common Purpose is to work with shared aims and values. It implies the ability to engage in collective analysis of the issues at hand and the tasks to be undertaken. It requires that all members of the group participate actively in articulating the purpose and goals of the leadership development activity;
  6. Controversy with Civility recognizes two fundamental realities of any group effort: that differences in viewpoint are inevitable and valuable, and that such differences must be aired openly but with civility;
  7. Citizenship describes the process whereby the self is responsibly connected to the environment and the community. It acknowledges the interdependence of all involved in the leadership effort. Citizenship thus recognizes that effective democracy involves individual responsibility as well as individual rights.

Suggested Leadership Student Learning Outcomes

1.      Students will demonstrate an accurate sense of self through the articulation of personal values, beliefs, and attitudes.  (Individual Value Cluster)

2.      Students will develop strategies to collaborate with others to achieve a common purpose.  (Group Value Cluster)

3.      Students will articulate their responsibility for creating positive change within their communities.  (Community Value Cluster)


Astin, H. S., & Astin, A. W. (1996). A social change model of leadership development guidebook 3 Ed. The National Clearinghouse of Leadership Programs.

Komives, S. R. & Wagner, W. (Eds.). (2009). Leadership for a better world: Understanding the social change model of leadership development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

leadership cycle
Figure 1

Since it happens that there are seven values on this list and they all begin with the letter "C," they are dubbed the "7 C’s" of leadership development for social change. These values, in turn, can be organized within the three levels of the model, as follows: