Five Practices

Do your students consider themselves leaders?

We believe they are.

Leadership is not about position or title, power or authority, celebrity or wealth, family or genetics. It's also not just something for a chosen few. Leadership is everyone's business! Leadership is about relationships, personal credibility, and what you do. It's about an observable set of skills and abilities that are useful wherever you are. As a skill, leadership can be strengthened, honed, and enhanced, given the motivation and desire, along with practice and feedback, role models, and coaching. If students find themselves in a challenging situation that requires setting a good example for others, looking ahead to the future, taking initiative to change the status quo, building teamwork and trust, and encouraging others to succeed, then they are in a situation that requires leadership. What is required of them in this situation is that they step forward and become the best leader they can be.

The first place to look for leadership is within oneself. The Student Leadership Practices Inventory (Student LPI) is a tool that enables students to take that lookto look at the skills they now have and to build upon their immense potential to make a real difference. Focusing on the practices that actual leaders employ, The Student Leadership Challenge program offers young leaders the opportunity to measure their current leadership strengths and weaknesses, to make a plan for improvement, and to commit to growing as a leader.

Ours is an imperfect world. And yet there remains the promise that students like the ones you teach will become the transformative leaders of today and tomorrow. It's their vision, their values, and their beliefs that will shape the direction of our world. We need more exemplary leaders, and we need them now more than ever. There is so much extraordinary work that needs to be done. We hope that The Student Leadership Challenge will help your students feel more empowered, be more capable to accept these challenges,  and strengthen their will to persist in making a difference on campus and in the world.

You can help them develop into better leaders. You can liberate the leader within each and every one of them.

Learn about each of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.



In The Student Leadership Challenge model, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner—today's premier leadership experts—demonstrate how any student can be a leader, regardless of age and experience. Grounded in over 30 years of extensive research, they have identified The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® that are common when leaders are able to make extraordinary things happen.

Model the Way
The most important personal quality people look for and admire in a leader is personal credibility. Credibility is the foundation of leadership. If people don’t believe in the messenger, they won’t believe the message. Titles may be granted but leadership is earned.

Student leaders Model the Way by finding their voice and affirming shared values.

 Leaders establish principles concerning the way people (fellow students, student groups, teachers, and advisors) should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.
Inspire a Shared Vision
Leaders are driven by their clear image of possibility and what their organization could become.

Student leaders Inspire a Shared Vision by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities and  appealing to shared aspirations.


Leaders passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the group, team, or organization can be. Leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future.
Challenge the Process
Leaders are pioneers—they are willing to step out into the unknown. The work of leaders is change, and the status quo is unacceptable to them. They search for opportunities to innovate, grow, and improve.  

Student leaders Challenge the Process by searching for opportunities and by experimenting, taking risks, and learning from mistakes.

In doing so, they experiment and take risks. Because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.  Leaders constantly ask, “What can we learn from this?”
Enable Others to Act
Leaders know they can’t do it alone. Leadership is a team effort. Leaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams.They actively involve others. Leaders understand that they have a responsibility to bring others along.

Student leaders Enable Others to Act by fostering collaboration and strengthening others.  

Collaboration is the master skill that enables teams, partnerships, and other alliances to function effectively. The work of leaders is making people feel strong, capable, informed, and connected.
Encourage the Heart
Accomplishing extraordinary things in groups and organizations is hard work.The climb to the top is arduous and long; people can become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted. They’re often tempted to give up. Genuine acts of caring uplift the spirit and draw people forward.

Student leaders Encourage the Heart by recognizing contributions and celebrating values and victories.

To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize the contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. They make people feel like heroes.

What they are saying...

Corey Hill "The greatest part about being in the virtual community was being able to hear the instructors, talk about the material we were discussing, as well as having our own discussion as a class with our other classmates over chat. You got a lot of interaction with the material, a lot of takes and nuances on what other people were taking away from the material that I don't think you would get in a traditional classroom setting."
– Corey Hill
Oklahoma State University