What is Leadership?

This question has been discussed for centuries. There are over 200 definitions of the words “leadership” and “leader.” The answer depends on what the organization needs and what the organization values. At UNCG, we have several beliefs about leadership and have even defined what we believe makes the ideal leader:

  1. Leadership in not a choice…how well you lead is.
  2. Everyone at some point in his or her life will be expected to lead…He or she will lead well or lead poorly.
  3. Leadership can be, but is not necessarily, positional. You don’t have to be the President of an organization to be considered a leader.
  4. A leader is someone who helps initiate action or change.
  5. Leadership is Action.

The UNCG Leadership Framework: Eight Competencies of a UNCG Leader

The Leadership Advisory Team proposed that a description of a UNCG leader be created. This description would serve as common language to discuss leadership education and development on campus. It is not meant to limit the description of a leader, rather to serve as a starting point of common ideas.

1. Self-Awareness/Self-Management

Self-Awareness entails the ability to become aware of one’s strengths, limitations, passions and values. It is also becoming aware of how one responds to different situations and how others respond to you. Self-Management is the ability to take that knowledge and manage it so that the individual can achieve personal goals as well as work effectively with others and be aware of how one is being perceived within a group/leadership context. Congruence of values and actions is essential for authenticity within an individual. Has significant self-knowledge.

  • Demonstrate value congruence by your involvement and decisions
  • Critical thinking
  • Identify your values, passions, leadership style, strengths and opportunities for improvement
  • Demonstrate commitment to groups and tasks by completion of projects and follow-through
  • Work autonomously and demonstrate initiative
  • Aware of personal reaction to change and tolerance to taking risks (aware of how you react in a crisis)
  • Take responsibility for the consequences of actions, choices and mistakes
Personal Strengths

At an individual level, there are personal qualities which support and enhance group functioning and make social change possible.

  • Demonstrate a personal passion for activity
  • Describe and maintain an effective wellness regimen which allows student to maintain a high energy level
  • Motivate yourself to function at optimal levels of performance to include stressful situations, as appropriate – within societal norms (appropriate dress, sense of timing and etiquette for specific group)
  • Conduct self in a professional and ethical manner; exhibit professional attitude and commitment to task
  • Time and priority management
  • Demonstrate appropriate response to constructive criticism
  • Effectively manage emotions during change (aware of how you react in a crisis; is flexible and patient, do not pre-judge, keep an open mind, can tolerate change and ambiguity)
  • Take personal risks
Learning Experiences
  • Demonstrate ability to gain knowledge from everyday experiences and formal education experiences including: reflective learning, sense of curiosity, ability to look at things through different lenses
  • Is committed to personal professional development, continued learning and challenges
  • Can transfer skills to new settings or projects
  • Is capable of reflection, introspection, and self-learning
  • Develop a sense of curiosity (life-long learning desire)

2. Relationship/Group Development

Relationship Development entails the ability to understand roles of self and others in a relationship. The relationship may be task-oriented or process-oriented. At a group level, there are ways individuals collaborate which enhance their own qualities and the qualities of others while impacting change.

The ability to empower others and self through trust. The ability to motivate a group with multiple talents and perspectives to work together for a larger cause. Understands group dynamics and can facilitate a group meeting.
Division of Labor/enabling others to act (from Kouzes and Posner)
By assigning challenges, providing developmental feedback, fostering collaboration, mentoring and coaching, and allowing for mistakes.
Conflict with civility
Learning to raise conflict to issue-based reality and resolve with civility by:

  • Managing conflicts – capable of responsible confrontation and feedback
  • Political Intelligence/Environmental Scanning – recognize/identify roles, power, and social norms in a group and appropriately adapt personal actions so that you can have maximum impact in the group
  • Has political understanding of institutions (can assess environment, sees relationships across campus)
Group Facilitation
Can effectively facilitate meetings, conferences and small group times to accomplish goal
Negotiating roles with peers and reports, negotiating the meaning of events (i.e. need for change), negotiating the probabilities of attaining the vision, etc.

3. Task Management

The ability to understand a task and be able to describe and enact the process and produce steps needed to carry it to completion.

  • Use of available systems – assess and understand current systems, resources and groups that can assist in completion of goal, knowledge of and competence in the job/position in which person is serving
  • Can solve problems using available resources
  • Ability to locate, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information
  • Planning/Coordinating- demonstrate ability to forecast, setting goals, develop strategies, establish priorities, delegate, sequence and time tasks, budget, organize, and standardize procedures
  • Organizational skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Decision Making- demonstrate ability to make effective choices and solve problems

4. Creative Visioning and Problem Solving

  • Visioning – ability to conceptualize and provide a vision
  • Innovation – adapts to situations of continual change and provide out of the box solutions
  • Ability to locate, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information
  • Recognizes the importance of abstract ideas and artistic expression in the process of self-understanding and in the shaping of society
  • Risk Taking – taking reasonable risks by recognizing alternative or different ways of meeting objectives and recognizing potential negative outcomes of risk
  • Can solve problems by using available resources

5. Effective Communication

Demonstrate effective communication skills through a variety of mediums including: the ability to write and speak clearly, coherently and effectively as well as to adapt modes of communication to one’s audience; demonstrate effective writing of formal reports and business correspondence as well as informal notes; practice effective written communication skills.

Oral communication: Present information verbally either one-on-one, in small groups, or to a large audience.

  • Can facilitate a group meeting
  • Practices non-verbal communication
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills with groups (presentation, public speaking, dealing with media

  -Electronic: Present information via e-mail, instant messenger, and web-pages.

  -Mass communication: Construct a plan to effectively communicate concepts to a mass group of people.

  -Listening: Being attentive when others are speaking and responding effectively (verbally and non-verbally) to others’ comments during a conversation (applies active listening skills).

  -Aesthetic/Artistic: Using pictures, art, poems, stories, dances, and plays to communicate ideas to create change.

6. Intercultural Knowledge

Understand the value of and work more productively because of a diverse group to include: different personality types, culture, economic, gender, race, religion, physical or mental challenges, sexual orientation, and generational.

  • Demonstrates empathy, tact and sensitivity toward others, including those with different communication styles
  • Openness to a variety of perspectives
  • Appreciates difference of thought and difference of being
  • Seeks to develop skills to enhance diversity on the campus
  • Shows empathy, acceptance and concern for students
  • Significant elements of the world’s diversity of cultural and national experiences and interconnections among them
  • Sensitivity to social and cultural differences

7. Community Engagement

Responsibly connect/be involved with the greater community (Campus, Greensboro, World) by:

  • Assessing and understanding community structure to include economic, political, resource availability and positional and non-positional power
  • Recognizing and demonstrating support for effective democracy which involves individual responsibility as well as individual rights (i.e. votes, volunteers, and participates in community government)
  • Recognizing the importance of abstract ideas and artistic expression in the process of self-understanding and in the shaping of society
  • The individual, society and interactions between them
  • Has political understanding of institutions (can assess environment, sees relationships across campus)

At the community/society level, leadership activities can be directed to address social concerns. These service activities can nurture individual qualities and group interactions.

8. Ethical Decisions

  • Think critically, analyze and convey the ethical component of the problem or dilemma
  • Stand up for personal and professional ethics with a high degree of integrity
  • See situation holistically and show concern for others’ perspectives
  • Demonstrate a personal motivation to do the right thing
  • Recognition of social and intellectual responsibility
  • Sensitivity and attentiveness to the ethical dimensions of any problem or experience
  • Ability to locate, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information