Core Leadership Assumptions
1. Leadership is contextual and is influenced by culture.
The nature of leadership depends to a great extent on the situation. Therefore, leadership can take different forms in different places and at different times. Cultural influences on leadership range from personal experiences with family, committees, or peer groups to broader influences such as nation of origin and religion. There is variation in the concept of leadership across world cultures resulting in a wide range of beliefs about what constitutes leaders and leadership.
2. Leadership competencies can be learned and developed.
Although some individuals may appear to be born leaders, we each can learn and develop leadership skills. We may express leadership differently, yet every person in the university community is capable of leadership development.
3. Leadership development is a lifelong process.
Continuous learning and improvement are essential to the development of leadership knowledge and skills. Leadership development is a process, not merely a focus on products, tasks, or the current desired outcomes. Through various experiences in leadership, feedback from others, and self-reflection, we continue to fine-tune our conceptual and experiential understanding of leadership throughout our lifetime.
4. Leadership does not require a formal position.
Leadership is not a specific title, position, or role. Leadership can be practical and embodied in many ways within the lives of individuals and at the university.
5. Leadership is inclusive.
Effective leaders cultivate the participation and learning among all constituents. The aim of inclusive leadership at Mason is to encourage, expect, and expand the emergence of leadership thinking and practice across all contexts of the university.
6. Leadership development is grounded in the awareness of strengths.
The process of identifying and maximizing one’s strengths are essential elements of leadership development. Developing complementary partnerships and collaborations with others enhances one’s impact. Effective leaders and members cultivate and capitalize on the diverse talents of teams and group members.
7. Understanding the civic and global dimensions of leadership is essential.
Those involved in leadership must practice shared responsibility for a common future. Effective leadership requires an informed understanding of diverse communities and the roles and responsibilities of individuals within them, and a commitment to public problem-solving. Developing political and cultural competence and global engagement are hallmarks of leadership.
8.Leadership is ethical and is values-driven.
Leadership includes ethical action, both in the process and outcomes. The consistent demonstration of honest and ethical decision-making and behavior by leaders form the foundation of trust and credibility on which relationships are built and maintained.
*These leadership assumptions were adapted from Komives, S.R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T.R. in Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference (2007). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.