Understanding the 5 Domains of Leadership

By Garth Nichols

The conception of leadership at Havergal is changing. This year, we introduced our five domains of leadership, which are framed by the four Cs of modern learning (Communication, Collaboration, Critical and Creative thinking) and our four core values of inquiry, integrity, compassion and courage. With these at the centre of our leadership program, we are recognizing that leadership looks, sounds and feels different for each student.

A working group at Havergal spent two years researching key questions around leadership. Using the research from experts in the field, we have created Havergal’s five domains of leadership: Formal Leadership, Intellectual Leadership, Leadership of the Self, Leadership in the Community and Informal Leadership.

Formal Leadership is best characterized by our very visible elected leaders of the school. In these roles, girls take on the responsibility of creating a vision, leading their peers and collaborating for the purpose of improving the school. This is most clearly demonstrated through the coordination of events, such as presentations in Prayers and assemblies. However, it is also characterized by the heavy-lifting of research, dialogue and, in some cases, consensus-building; through the setting of agendas; the running of meetings; and using free time in service to the school. Working with dedicated faculty mentors, formal leaders are essentially in a work-study while learning and growing as leaders.

Intellectual Leadership is best characterized by curiosity and a growth mindset toward academic pursuit. These leaders cultivate their voice and agency in the classroom and approach challenges with a critical mind. Working with their teachers, these leaders do not dominate the discussion, but enable the voices of others around a Harkness table; they might also engage in events that deepen and extend their learning outside the classroom through Day 9 opportunities or clubs and initiatives.

Leadership of the Self is characterized by a growing sense of self through metacognition. Strong leadership in this area is about being open to new experiences, accepting feedback and growing executive functioning and social emotional skills. It is also about seeking out ways to build one’s own self-concept and self-confidence. Working with our Guidance and Learning Support teachers, these leaders are growing their capacity for resiliency.

A connected Leader in the Community seeks out and listens to different perspectives of lived experiences of others. They work with the Forum for Change and community partnerships to connect
with the broader challenges and opportunities of our world and endeavour to understand the complexity of social issues. They are curious and humble on this journey as they strive to make the world a better place through responsible social action.

Informal Leadership captures those students who are champions of change, bridge-builders and strong supporters of others. They demonstrate an internal drive to make change through different avenues other than formal leadership and building capacity in themselves and others. Working with faculty and staff, these leaders are able to influence positive change. Informal Leaders can be quiet and behind the scenes, which can also be powerful and impactful. It is our hope that more of our community sees the value and importance of leading in this way and that it is something we are all capable of doing (and have the permission to do).

These five domains of leadership are not a hierarchy. They are not ranked in any order. In fact, they work together, can be manifested in different ways at different times and have shared skills and dispositions. The shared skills are effective communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. These are the four core competencies of contemporary learning. The disposition is best captured by Havergal’s core values. It is our mission to prepare young women to make a difference and being curious about the ideas and experiences of others (inquiry) is key to this. We want our leaders to have the capacity for compassion, to lead knowing that others will be affected by their decisions and to be aware of that impact. To that end, we are developing integrity in our student leaders by emphasizing the importance of purpose and leading with a strong sense of why. We want our student leaders to be courageous, not audacious, in the way they lead. These five domains give us a shared language and framework to surface, celebrate and value the incredible ways our students make Havergal and beyond a better place.


Reprinted from the Spring 2018 Torch.