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Our leadership approach

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Core Principles of Leadership Development


PSLP final presentation

The vision behind our work in developing students as leaders is to develop thoughtful, skilled and reflective practitioners equipped to effect positive social change. Everyone has the potential to exercise leadership, whether in formal positions or not. Our goal is to have students understand what is involved in ethical and effective leadership, and to assess and develop their own abilities so that they are more confident and able to provide leadership when in situations requiring it.


Our approach to leadership development includes attempting to teach students a set of practices (or skills) that James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, refer to as the “five practices of exemplary leadership" and corresponding ten commitments.

Model the Way

  • Find your voice by clarifying your personal values.
  • Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.

Inspire a Shared Vision   

  • Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities.
  • Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.

Challenge the Process

  • Search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow and improve.
  • Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes.

Enable Others to Act

  • Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.
  • Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion.

Encourage the Heart

  • Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.
  • Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

We chose the “Leadership Challenge" model because it is based on empirical research, and it is easy to understand and internalize. There is an assessment instrument, The Leadership Practices Inventory, which has a student version, thus facilitating a process of assessment and program planning to teach students the relevant practices.

For more on the model, see Kouzes, James M. and Posner, Barry Z., The Leadership Challenge, 3rd ed., San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002.


The values which underlie our work with students in leadership development are based on Stanford's Principles of Ethical and Effective Service. These basic values reflect similar sentiments to much of what is embodied in the nationally-known Social Change Model of Leadership (also developed to teach leadership in the context of public and community service). Following are the core values/principles in which we ground our teaching about leadership in a service context:

  • Humility
  • Respect and Inclusion
  • Reciprocity
  • Preparation
  • Safety and Well-being
  • Accountability
  • Evaluation
  • Learning and Reflection

For more information on this model, see Bonous-Hammarth, M., "Developing Social Change Agents: Leadership Development for the 1990s and Beyond," in Outcalt, C.L. et al., Developing Non-hierarchical Leadership in Companies, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Program Elements

In addition to the vision, practices and values guiding the Haas Center’s leadership development efforts, we have identified six key elements that we believe contribute to a well-rounded approach to leadership development programming:

  1. Knowledge: appreciation of leadership development as a field of study as well as comprehension of select leadership models, practices and values in the context of public service
  2. Observation: exposure to individuals who can serve as model leaders in public service
  3. Practice: involvement in public service to provide a context and “laboratory" for developing personal leadership skills and philosophy
  4. Feedback: opportunities for others to assist with self-assessment through regular dialogue and use of tools such as individual learning plans or the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Practices Inventory
  5. Reflection: structured opportunities, both verbal and written, for student to assess their own leadership experiences and to determine what public service leadership means to them on a personal level
  6. Community: ensuring that at least part of the leadership development experience is shared within a community of students who can teach and learn from one another while gaining greater appreciation of diverse perspectives and approaches to leadership. This community might be created through a course, a structured program, or a weekend retreat.

For more information, please contact Kristy Lobo.