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Teachers > Leadership > Lesson Introduction

This is one of six modules of What Does It Mean To Be An American?,

a curriculum resource designed for high school and college classrooms. 

In this lesson, students will be encouraged to reflect on the concept and characteristics of leadership through the lens of their own life experiences. Through self-reflection, discussion, and considering the experiences of others, students explore and refine their ideas about leadership, such as the characteristics of effective leadership and how to best foster those qualities in themselves and others. They are also introduced to a few basic leadership theories to help structure and expand the way they think about leadership.

Lesson Introduction

What is leadership?

What are some important characteristics of effective leadership?

How can we foster leadership qualities in ourselves and others?


What are some different ways to conceptualize and think about leadership?

Organizing Questions

In this lesson students:

Discuss the meaning of leadership

Consider ways that scholars have conceptualized leadership

Reflect upon their own experiences as leaders and with leaders

Critically consider and assess the strengths and weaknesses of five theories of leadership

Consider which of the five general theories of leadership resonates with them, both as leaders and working with leaders


The following are suggestions for assessing student work in this lesson:

  1. Assess written responses to Self-Reflection based on quality of thought and clarity of writing.

  2. Assess student essays in Reflecting on Leadership based on students’ quality of thought and clarity of writing.

  3. Assess written responses to President Truman’s quote in Leaders in History (if conducted as a written assignment) based on quality of thought and clarity of writing.

  4. Assess student participation in group and class discussions, evaluating students’ ability to

    • clearly state their opinions, questions, and/or answers; 

    • exhibit sensitivity toward different cultures and ideas; 

    • respect and acknowledge other students’ comments;

    • ask relevant and insightful questions; and

    • provide correct and thoughtful answers to classmates’ questions.


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