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KCDES is a leadership model discovered and developed by Mike Cornwell in 2020. Cornwell claims that the model is a holistic framework that encapsulates the entire concept of leadership, including the actions required for a person to utilize leadership.

KCDES is an acronym that stands for the following:

  • Know Leadership
  • Carry a Vision
  • Develop Your Character
  • Earn Influence
  • Spend Influence

Know Leadership: Unlocking the Key Elements

The first dimension of KCDES focuses on the acquisition and application of leadership knowledge. To become an effective leader, one must possess a deep understanding of leadership theories, principles, and best practices. This entails studying the works of renowned leadership scholars, learning from real-world examples, and continuously expanding one’s knowledge base. Knowing leadership also involves recognizing the different leadership styles and approaches, and understanding their potential impact on individuals and organizations. By equipping oneself with this foundational knowledge, leaders gain the insights necessary to navigate complex challenges and make informed decisions.

Carry a Vision: Inspiring a Compelling Future

A crucial aspect of leadership is the ability to craft and communicate a compelling vision. Leaders must possess the clarity and foresight to envision a desirable future state, inspiring and rallying others around this shared vision. This dimension of KCDES emphasizes the importance of defining a purposeful direction and setting meaningful goals that align with the organization’s values and objectives. Leaders who carry a vision effectively communicate it with passion and conviction, mobilizing their team to work towards a common goal. By providing a sense of purpose and direction, leaders foster a shared sense of identity and ignite the motivation necessary to achieve extraordinary results.

Develop Your Character: The Foundation of Authentic Leadership

At the heart of effective leadership lies the development of personal character. The first person a leader must influence is themselves and personal character is the basis for this influence. This third dimension of KCDES highlights the significance of personal growth, integrity, and ethical conduct. Leaders must cultivate qualities such as humility, empathy, resilience, and self-awareness. By continuously working on personal development, leaders not only enhance their own effectiveness but also inspire and influence others through their authentic presence. Developing character involves reflecting on one’s values, strengths, and areas for improvement, as well as seeking feedback and mentorship. It is through the cultivation of character that leaders establish trust, credibility, and genuine connections with their team members, fostering a culture of openness and collaboration.

Earn Influence: Building Trust and Respect

The fourth dimension of KCDES centers around the concept of earning influence. Influence is not bestowed upon leaders by virtue of their title or position; it is earned through consistent actions, competence, and the demonstration of genuine care for others. Leaders who earn influence create an environment of trust and respect, actively listening to the perspectives and needs of their team members. They empower others by delegating responsibility, providing guidance, and recognizing achievements. Through their actions, leaders build strong relationships, inspire loyalty, and create a positive organizational climate that nurtures growth and innovation.

Spend Influence: Leveraging Impact for Positive Change

The final dimension of KCDES emphasizes the responsible and intentional use of influence to drive positive change. Leaders who spend influence understand the power they wield and utilize it to inspire, motivate, and guide others towards shared goals. They make informed decisions, take calculated risks, and advocate for what is right, even in the face of adversity. By leveraging their influence, leaders shape the organizational culture, champion innovation, and promote inclusivity. They invest their influence in mentorship, coaching, and developing the potential of others. Through their actions, leaders leave a lasting legacy, creating a ripple effect of positive impact that extends far beyond their immediate sphere of influence.


KCDES, the leadership model pioneered by Mike Cornwell, offers a comprehensive roadmap for aspiring and seasoned leaders alike. By encompassing the dimensions of Knowing Leadership, Carrying a Vision, Developing Your Character, Earning Influence, and Spending Influence, KCDES provides a holistic framework that guides individuals towards impactful leadership. By embracing the principles embedded within each dimension, leaders can unlock their full potential, inspire others, and drive positive change in their organizations and communities. Through continuous growth, self-reflection, and the intentional use of influence, we can foster a new generation of leaders who make a difference and shape a brighter future.

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