Leaders are Made, Not Born

“Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” - J.M. Burns
Photo: Nicole Pasia

Cultivating Leadership

Research shows that over 70% of leadership skills are learned, not innate. That means that every person can develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to be an effective change agent and contribute to their communities. That’s the role of the Husky Leadership Initiative (HLI): to help students cultivate these capacities.

The work of HLI is guided in part by two main ideas:

  • Leadership grows out of experience, practice, and reflection.
  • Leadership is not about position; everyone can engage in leadership.

Discovering the ways you like to lead is the trick to unlocking your potential. Check out HLI’s list of opportunities across the UW to learn and practice leadership– see if any of them appeal to you.

What are Your Leadership Capacities?

One way to reflect on your development as a leader, or to identify the ways you’re most comfortable exercising leadership, is through understanding different leadership capacities. Students who enroll in the Husky Leadership Certificate program use these capacities to formally reflect on their experiences, but you can do this on your own as well. The capacities include:

  • Learning and Reasoning
  • Self Awareness and Development
  • Interpersonal Interaction
  • Group Dynamics
  • Civic Responsibility
  • Communication
  • Strategic Planning
  • Personal Behavior

More detailed descriptions of these capacities are included in HLI’s Leadership Framework. Ask yourself: What are my strengths? Where have I demonstrated these capacities in the past? In what areas would I like to grow? You can also check out the leadership portfolios of other UW students and think about the ways in which cultivating leadership allows you to turn your knowledge, skills, and passion into action that makes a difference. Leaders are made, not born.

About the Husky Experience Toolkit

The Husky Experience Toolkit is designed to help you make the most of your time at UW, wherever you are in your university career. The articles address four interconnected dimensions of the Husky Experience: Know Yourself, Know the World, Make Your Way, and Weave it Together.