Office of Student Leadership and Involvement

Oberlin Student Leadership Model

Leadership programming at Oberlin is based on a variety of leadership theories. Using these theories, we use this leadership model to create programming and content for students based on three levels of leadership: the personal/individual, the group/team, the organization, and the community/society. 

3 circles within a large circle; smallest circle is labeled personal/individual, larger is labeled group/team, larger than that is labeled organizational, and largest is labeled community/society
Oberlin Student Leadership Model

Learn more about the Leadership Development Model below. 

Personal/Individual Level of Leadership

Leadership requires self-knowledge. The personal/individual level of the model addresses the process of understanding oneself as a leader. Students learn about themselves and contextualize themselves within the world surrounding them.

  • Critical Consciousness of Self: Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and how your identities affect your leadership approaches.
  • Self Management: Learn how to build resilience and handle emotional responses to adversity that leaders face in their pursuit of social change.
  • Authenticity: Once you know yourself, learn to act within your values and passions in your actions both private and public to be your most authentic leader.
  • Commitment to Purpose: Define your mission and vision for your leadership journey and demonstrate your commitments through your actions.


Group/Team Level of Leadership

Leadership is a relational process that requires relationship-building with other people and team members. The group/team level refers to the capacities necessary for working one on one or in a team with other people.

  • Collaboration: Unlock the powers of working with others by balancing responsibilities, negotiating tasks, and ensuring everyone is included. 
  • Communication: Build skills in how to speak your mind with others but also listen to their needs and concerns to work towards your goals.
  • Empathy: Practice social perspective taking to understand others, especially to better understand the experiences of people with identities different than your own.
  • Group Dynamics: Approach groups with flexibility and awareness of power dynamics that play into the group's goal and experiences.


Organizational Level of Leadership

Leadership occurs between and among groups involved in larger organizations. The organizational leadership level encourages students to think about their leadership in broader contexts, reach consensus with larger groups, deal with conflict, and share power.

  • Equitable Purpose: Everyone in an organization deserves a seat at the table to determine goals and needs- learn how to collaborate with groups to advocate for a common group purpose.
  • Controversy with Courage: Learn how to approach differences within groups as an opportunity to learn from one another while courageously confronting the uncomfortable dynamics that can lead to conflict.
  • Problem-Solving: Think differently about the world around you and don't be afraid to challenge old ways of doing to promote better practices.
  • Capacity Building: Build up the potential of those around you by investing in others through delegation, coaching, and support.


Community/Society Level of Leadership

Leadership is fundamentally based on promoting social change within our society. This level helps students to utilize a global mindset to look toward the long-term impact of leadership. They see beyond themselves and their groups and see their connectedness to something larger than themselves.

  • Social Justice: Promote a culture and commitment to social justice through recognizing the role of leadership to promote positive social change.
  • Civic Responsibility: Get engaged, be active in your community, and take action to support causes you care about.
  • Fellowship: Build connections with those whose lived experiences differ from your own. 
  • Coalescence: Join with other leaders with the shared understanding that systemic equity and justice is beneficial for all. 

More Leadership Resources!

The Oberlin Leadership Model is based on a variety of leadership resources you can access through the Oberlin College Library System or find online. Check out the links below to learn more!