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Leadership Philosophy

Leadership Philosophy

At The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill we believe leadership is a learned process that results in service-directed change.  It is personal to each individual and is an authentic practice of one’s values.  We believe leadership never happens alone and therefore requires inclusivity and respect for the community it serves. 

We believe individuals who practice this philosophy of leadership are leaders and therefore are not tied to a position but rather committed to the process of self-discovery.  Leaders develop resilience in their effort to create a positive impact and show gratitude to those who serve along side them.

How we define our key practices:

  • Learned Process is described as a process whereby concepts are derived from and continuously modified by experience and knowledge is continuously derived from and tested out in the experiences of the learner (Kolb, 1984).
  • Service-Directed is to give of ourselves for something greater than ourselves with a larger community in mind.  This requires the building of relationships with others in order to take action together for change (Greenleaf, 1970; Komives, Wagner, & Associate, 2009; LeaderShape, 2015).
  • Authentic Practice is the ability to understand and continuously question what constitutes one’s core values and beliefs.  It is greater than the individual desires and serves the collective interest of the group and community (Avolio & Wernsing, 2008). 
  • Values are a set of core beliefs about what is right and personally important.  Values serve as a guiding tool for personal behavior (Seemiller, 2014; LeaderShape, 2015).
  • Inclusivity is a way of understanding, valuing, and actively engaging diversity in views, approaches, styles, and aspects of individuality in an effort to create a sense of belonging and develop a shared commitment (Seemlier, 2014; Komives, Lucas, & McMahon, 2013).
  • Respect requires trust and civility.  Because individuals may not always share the same opinion in a group setting, there must be a mutual understanding of an intent based on beneficence and goodness (Komives, Wagner, & Associate, 2009).
  • Community can broadly be defined as a group of individuals, student organization, residence hall, classroom, office, campus, neighborhood, town, city, nation, or the world (HERI, 1996; Komives, Wagner, & Associate, 2009).
  • Self-Discovery is the understanding of one’s strengths, values, interests, emotional intelligence, and the impact of those on others (Komives, Wagner, & Associate, 2009; Komives, Lucas, & McMahon, 2013).
  • Resilience is one’s capacity to respond to challenging experiences with improvement and strength, learning from the experience, which leads to healthy self-esteem (Shankman, Allen, & Haber-Curran, 2015).
  • Positive Impact occurs through the building of relationships in a community and collaboration with others to determine what is for the common good and leads towards positive sustainable change (Komives, Wagner, & Associate, 2009).   
  • Gratitude is the willingness to recognize the unearned increments of value in one’s experience while cultivating one’s sense of interconnectedness and personal growth (Bertocci & Millard, 1963; Emmons & Shelton, 2002). 


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