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Leadership Excellence Philosophy Statement

The Vanderbilt University Office of Student Leadership Development believes in developing visionary, goal-driven and action-oriented student leaders. Exhibiting an awareness of self and others, a student leader at Vanderbilt is:


An accountable leader

  • Answers to their actions and behaviors by admitting mistakes, apologizing, asking for help, seeking reconciliation, meeting deadlines, honoring commitments, and accepting the consequences of one’s actions
  • Takes initiative by challenging others to take responsibility for their actions and behaviors

A collaborative leader

  • Works with others (individuals and organizations) toward a common objective through the sharing of ideas, trust, and distribution of responsibilities across members
  • Sacrifices individual recognition and understands that collectively drawing upon resources, time, experiences, wisdom, and energy yields sustainable success

A communicative leader

  • Practices strategies to effectively communicate with others, one on one, in groups, and/or in front of a large audience verbally, nonverbally, through listening, writing, facilitation, social media, conflict negotiation, conveying of ideas, and advocating for a point of view
  • Engages others in dialogue, decision-making, and reflection, creating more transparency and opportunities for a relationship-driven culture

An ethical leader

  • Upholds standards of conduct based on socially accepted values through actions that promote productivity, trust, fairness, and the well-being of others
  • Enables others to lead congruently with their values, while respecting community standards 

A service-oriented leader

  • Acts on the belief that serving others is essential in creating and maintaining a thriving community, while recognizing service is multi-faceted and includes: volunteerism, civic engagement, and active citizenship
  • Practices servant leadership by sharing influence, putting the needs of others first, and empowering others to lead by providing and creating opportunities for others to develop and perform at their optimal level
Supportive of All

A leader who is supportive of all

  • Actively seeks exposure to people from different backgrounds, beliefs, disciplines, identities, orientations, and experiences to better understand and appreciate differences while creating a rich learning environment 
  • Cultivates a welcoming campus community that includes others in roles, processes, and experiences in an effort to foster a sense of belonging and disrupt the inequitable distribution of social power and influence