Using Definitions to Provoke Deep Explorations into the Nature of Leadership

Leadership is filled with concepts that often do not have an agreed upon definition. The purpose of this paper is to share a learning activity that provokes students’ thinking about the nature of leadership using six leadership definitions. This activity is a dynamic starting place to explore what leadership is and is not, how it differs from management, a historical perspective of leadership, and students’ diverse perspectives about leadership. This activity is a straightforward, critical thinking exercise that offers a conduit to a deeper understanding that how we define leadership says something about what we value in a leader. We suggest modifications to this definitional exercise and discuss how to use it in different teaching environments.