The Leadership Model

The Leadership Model

Defining Leadership

How is leadership defined? While it might seem like such a desirable skill should be easy to describe, the literature reveals that in reality, there are a variety of interpretations for this concept.

MRU believes that leadership can be learned and applied in many different ways. Rather than narrowing the term to one definition, we have aligned student leadership opportunities to Kouzes and Posner’s (2012) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:

  1. Model the Way

  2. Inspire a Shared Vision

  3. Challenge the Process

  4. Enable Others to Act

  5. Encourage the Heart

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership

Kouzes and Posner (2012) came up with the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership after analyzing thousands of case studies to determine what competencies leaders demonstrate when they are acting at their best (p. 24). In their book, titled The Leadership Challenge, they explore these practices in detail while emphasizing that “Leadership is not about who you are; it’s about what you do” (p. 15). Since what one does can always be adjusted, any MRU student has the potential to become a leader by getting involved and engaging in the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, as summarized below. 

Model the Way

This practice refers to the idea that the behaviours leaders exhibit must align with their values and expectations. Modelling the way means setting an example for others by ensuring that actions match beliefs and intent. In doing so, others look up to leaders as genuine and trustworthy role models. 

Think about your own experiences:

  • When have you set a positive example for others?

  • Who are your role models? How have they modelled the way for you?


Inspire a Shared Vision

Leaders not only imagine new and exciting possibilities, they invite others to join them. This encourages the creation of a vision that team members understand and help develop. The outcome of inspiring a shared vision is that the whole team is more likely to passionately support change goals. Compare this to the idea of dictating a vision - there is no “shared” in that! 

Think about your own experiences:

  • What is the best team you’ve been part of and what made it so?

  • Compare a time when you were involved in decision-making and a time you weren’t. Which outcome was more meaningful to you?


Challenge the Process

Within this practice, challenge is not meant to be perceived as an obstacle, but instead, an opportunity. As stated by Kouzes and Posner (2012), “Challenge is the crucible for greatness” (p. 19). To achieve greatness, leaders take calculated risks and dare to make suggestions that explore different opportunities. Student leadership opportunities provide a valuable forum for inspiration to be shared and meaningful change to be pursued. 

Think about your own experiences:

  • How have you challenged the process this term?

  • What is one change you wish you could make to an aspect of your life today? How might you start working towards this?


Enable Others to Act

The best leaders encourage others to reach their potential and provide the support needed to make that happen. Rather than take on most opportunities themselves, leaders understand how to build the skills and confidence of others by encouraging them to take risks and entrusting them with responsibility. 

Think about your own experiences:

  • When has somebody helped you fulfill or exceed your potential? How did they make this happen?

  • What is something you could do this week to support a peer in reaching his/her goal?


Encourage the Heart

Successful leaders recognize and appreciate the work of their team in meaningful ways. Doing so serves to strengthen community and foster a positive culture. 

Think about your own experiences:

  • What makes you feel valued for your contributions to extracurricular activities?

  • What communities do you most identify with, both at, and outside of, MRU? 



Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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