Activity 1.  Culture and Leadership:  Tape 8 easel sheets of paper to the classroom wall.  One each sheet, write the name of a culture that is different from most of the students in the class, so that 8 different cultures/ethnicities will be identified.  Give each student a marker.  Then, the class has 8-10 minutes to walk around the room and write on each easel sheet things they know or think they know about a given culture.  After 10 minutes, have all students return to their seats.  Each easel sheet will have at least 20 different “facts” or “prejudices” or “stereotypes” listed about a specific culture.  Discuss in a large group the differences between facts and prejudices, how prejudices evolve, and results of prejudices.

Activity 2.  Can be used for Transformational Leadership, Servant Leadership, or Authentic Leadership.  Take students to the curriculum library on campus, and have them find a children’s literature book in which the main character/animal demonstrates the traits/characteristics of a transformational/servant/authentic leader.  Students not only have to identify the traits/characteristics of a leader, but also have to then identify the traits demonstrated by the main character, and tell why the character is transformational/authentic/or a servant leader.

Activity 3.  Pass around a roll (or rolls) of toilet tissue around the class.  Make sure the tissue has distinct sheets that can be easily separated from the roll.  Tell students to take as many or as few sheets as they wish.  When everyone has taken their selected number of sheets, tell them to individually list a leadership trait that they possess—one trait per sheet of toilet tissue.  Some students will inevitably take 10 or more sheets.  Challenge them to keep thinking about their traits until they come up with one trait per sheet!

Activity 4.  Leadership Traits:  Ask students to list the characteristics of the best chocolate chip cookie.  Write all of the ideas on the board—some with be quantitative (e.g, “4 inches in diameter” and contains exactly 15 dark chocolate chips”) while others will be qualitative (“gooey”).  Upon further discussion, students will identify conflicting descriptions--)”chewy” vs. “crisp and crunchy”).  After 5 minutes, hand out one chocolate chip cookie to each student.  Ask them to assess how their cookie meets the characteristics of a good chocolate chip cookie listed on the board.

Finally, ask the students to indicate how the previous discussion relates to the concept of leadership:  what’s quantifiable about leadership?  what about the qualitative descriptions of leadership?  If we can’t even decide upon the qualitative characteristics of a good chocolate chip cookie, how then do we determine what a “good” leader is?  How do we assess/measure good leadership?

-Dr. Mary Ann Wiskniewksi, Carroll University

Activity 5. Ask the students to discuss how an Organizational Leadership Program vision and definition of leadership aligns with and is different from the extant theories of leadership in the Northouse text. Click here to download a sample vision statement.

-Dr. Gil Jacobs, Mercyhurst University


Multimedia Resources

-Dr. Mary Ann Wiskniewksi, Carroll University

  • Dr. Gil Jacobs discusses distinguishing between the various approaches to leadership using Yukl’s (2002) causal model of the relationships among primary leadership variables. Reference: Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in organizations (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.   

-Dr. Gil Jacobs, Mercyhurst University


Suggested Assignments

Assignment 1.  Service Project

There is a strong connection between leadership theory and practice.  With this in mind, the class will be challenged to work in small groups to identify a need or issue in the community, and address it through a service project.

Some examples/ideas of projects can be found below.  Your small group may generate other ideas; however, all service projects must be agreed upon by all group members and must be approved by Professor Wisniewski prior to its launch.  You must complete the attached Service Project Agreement by 10:30 am on Wednesday, October 8.

Sample Ideas

  • Identify a group of needy children, and initiate a drive to collect as many mittens, scarves, and hats as possible for them.  Find a way to publicize the drive, and then distribute the items to the children in a timely fashion.
  • Initiate a pet food drive to establish a food pantry to provide food for dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds for people who cannot afford such.  Find a way to publicize the drive, and then distribute the pet food as appropriate.
  • Arrange a “diversity” event.  Identify who, what, when, where.  Design promotional materials and distribute.  Arrange logistics.  Seek convocation point approval if appropriate.
  • Research at least 20 community service ideas for youth 16 and under and design and print a brochure to publicize the ideas.  Distribute as appropriate.
  • Research at least 20 community service ideas for families with young children and design and print a brochure to publicize the ideas.  Distribute as appropriate.
  • Set up a Wii system at a retirement community and recruit/train residents on how to use Wii for fitness and to maintain mental agility.  You will have to be screened to ensure the safety of participants.  Interview residents before and after to see how playing Wii affects their lives.


Assignment 2.  Service Project Reflection

Although you worked as a group on the Service Project, this Reflection offers individual group members an opportunity to submit individual work. Use citations from the text and additional readings to reinforce and validate your responses.  Address the following bullets.

  • Identify at least five connections between your service project and the principles/theories taught in this class.
  • What expectations did you have going into the project and how were they changed (if at all)?
  • What did you learn about working collaboratively?
  • What insights have you gained on how to work as a team?
  • What did you learn about the community you served?
  • What did you learn about yourself, your values, and your responsibility as a community member?
  • What issues are you willing to commit yourself to in the future and how will you show your commitment?
  • Why was this service project a part of a leadership class?
  • Finally, reflect on your overall experience.

-Dr. Mary Ann Wiskniewksi, Carroll University

Sample Syllabi

Leadership: Theory and Practice Jacobs, Syllabus.pdf
- Dr. Gil Jacobs, Mercyhurst University

Leadership: Theory and Practice Wisniewski, Leadership Syllabus.docx
-Dr. Mary Ann Wisniewski 


We gratefully acknowledge  the following individuals for granting us permission to post the content on this page.

Gilbert A. Jacobs, PhD
Director, Organizational Leadership Program
Walker School of Business, Mercyhurst University

Mary Ann Wisniewski, Ph.D.
Professor, Carroll University
Director, Organizational Leadership