Teaching Leadership Skills



? An excellent resource to provide an overview on leadership in the 21st century is the book Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

? Want to hear the latest on leadership? Check out these top picks from 2021 for podcasts about leadership that you can learn from and also assign to your students to review.

? Looking for tips on inclusive leadership? This link highlights a collection of 5 TED Talks on the importance of leadership that includes and values everyone as the key to success.

? Do you believe we all have potential to lead? Entrepreneur and former Icelandic presidential candidate Halla Tómasdóttir believes there is a leader in all of us and our goal should be to “release that leader.” In this 14 minute TED Talk, she describes the need for global leaders to change their ways — or risk becoming irrelevant.

? Need a quick overview on different leadership styles? There are many websites that describe a number of leadership styles; two are featured below that describe 5 leadership styles (some websites describe 7, 8, and even 10 leadership styles if you’re looking for more variety).

  • This US News and World Report article also provides a brief summary of 5 leadership styles:
    • Authoritative leadership
    • Coaching leadership
    • Collaborative leadership
    • Engaged leadership
    • Observant leadership

    ? What is inspirational leadership? This 18 minute TED Talk by Simon Sinek describes a model for inspirational leadership with the core tenet being the question “Why?” He includes examples of inspirational leadership including Apple, Martin Luther King Jr, and the Wright Brothers.

    ? The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) created a toolkit for leaders in medical schools and teaching hospitals. Their online virtual library includes resources for leading in difficult times, with a focus on managing self, leading others, and leading your organization.

    ? This brief article from the American Medical Association website includes tips for medical students in developing leadership skills. There is also a link to Leadership Learning Series with several online modules (requires registration to access).

    Faculty-to-Faculty Ideas

    Idea TitleSummary
    Word Cloud Assignment Have students come up with 3-5 words that describe the qualities of a good leader. I set up a poll on Canvas to record their answers. I compile all of the student responses and generate a word cloud to share with the class. The word cloud activity can be used in several ways; some examples are listed below
    • an introduction to leadership
    • as the starting point for discussion in class or on a discussion board on what characteristics are most frequently listed and what ones “stand out” or seem like outliers
    • as a baseline measure with a repeat of the poll at the end of the segment on leadership or the end of the semester to see if views on leadership have changed

    Discussion Board TopicAssign a movie for students to watch that recounts an event or events when good leadership would be needed. Observe the characters in the film who were in leadership positions and analyze their leadership styles. For my graduate students in public health, I have them watch the movie And the Band Played On about the early years of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the United States and identify challenges faced by leaders during the early response.
    Discussion Board TopicHave the students read a review article or book chapter on leadership. I used a book chapter entitled Leadership in Public Health from the textbook Public Health Administration: Principles for Population-based Management, edited by Novick et al. Students should then review a biography or historical account that focuses on a leader in the field and reflect on what characteristics of leadership they had and what characteristics they lacked. You could have all of the students review the same leader, or divide the class into groups and assign different leaders (e.g. CEOs of the top companies in the U.S., prime ministers in the United Kingdom, U.S. Surgeon Generals, U.S. Secretaries of State, Education, Defense, etc. See attached for more specific information on my discussion board assignment for graduate students in public health.

    Leadership in Public Health (PDF Version)
    Small Group ProjectLet students choose a TV sitcom or children’s movie to illustrate different leadership styles in the characters. For example, when teaching medical students about the importance of the Incident Management System in responding to emergencies, I had all students complete the online training FEMA Incident Management System Training

    Then, students worked in small groups to use characters from a sitcom or children’s movie (Disney. Pixar, etc) to identify which characters would be best suited for different roles in the incident management system. See attached for more specific information on the small group project.

    Small Group Project (PDF Version)
    Risk Communication Training Communicating during a crisis is an essential leadership skill. I have students complete online Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication training online https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/

    Then, I would open a discussion board to have students respond to misinformation in the news and on social media using risk communication skills. I have also had them review leaders being interviewed on TV and have them identify successful communication strategies as well as areas for improvement.

    Related Literature

    • Custard, Bob. “Lead from where you are.” Journal of Environmental Health, vol. 78, no. 9, 2016, p. 6+. Gale Academic OneFile, gale.com/apps/doc/A449662024/AONE?u=anon~f12e19f4&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=9384e0a2. Accessed 29 June 2021.
      • Custard _ Lead from Where you Are (PDF Version)
      • This short 2-page commentary describes the work of two leaders in environmental health in the 1800s; one a schoolteacher and the other a stay-at-home mom who identified health issues in their community and effected change to improve conditions. Custard summarizes their leadership strengths at the end of the commentary.
    • Saxena, Anurag, et al. Goleman’s Leadership styles at different hierarchical levels in medical education. BMC Medical Education, 2017, 17:169.
      • Saxena_Goleman’s Leadership Styles (PDF Version)
      • This article provides a review of different leadership styles described by Goleman (see book recommendation above) in medical education. It provides a nice summary of the leadership styles as well as analyzes which styles are used most commonly among leaders in medical education. Finally, it makes recommendations about leadership development based on the different styles.


    These are additional articles I have found in my literature search that I will review and add to the webpage if they are well-suited for the topic.

    • Dodd, Regan, et al. “SERVANT LEADERSHIP AND ITS IMPACT ON ETHICAL CLIMATE.” The Journal of Values-Based Leadership, vol. 11, no. 1, 2018, p. 112+. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A535420850/AONE?u=anon~f12e19f4&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=75230d49. Accessed 29 June 2021.
    • GANDZ, JEFFREY. “Global leadership and personal power.” Ivey Business Journal, vol. 64, no. 5, May 2000, p. 10. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A64161155/AONE?u=anon~f12e19f4&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=76f3474b. Accessed 29 June 2021.
    • Kantor, David, and Richard Koonce. “CONSEQUENTIAL CONVERSATIONS: Four ways socially intelligent leaders can engage others, drive decision making, and achieve results.” TD Magazine, vol. 72, no. 8, Aug. 2018, p. 50+. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A549486270/AONE?u=anon~f12e19f4&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=88e06458. Accessed 29 June 2021.
    • Seijts, Gerard H., and Jeffrey Gandz. “Transformational change and leader character.” Business Horizons, Mar. 2018. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A568080407/AONE?u=anon~f12e19f4&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=9fd20f79. Accessed 30 June 2021.
    • Yong, Brenda. “Relationship between emotional intelligence, motivation, integrity, spirituality, mentoring and servant leadership practices.” Arts and Social Sciences Journal, 2013. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A365455678/AONE?u=anon~f12e19f4&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=db12cf2f. Accessed 29 June 2021.