Husky Leadership Initiative

Leadership framework

Students at the top of a mountainDear Student,

As a public institution, the University of Washington creates and disseminates knowledge for the greater good. We address contemporary and stubborn challenges. We dive head first into the statement, “I don’t know” and begin to find solutions to big, interconnected problems: sustainability, global health, urbanization, social responsibility, economic justice to name a few. Part of our responsibility is to pay serious attention to these and other leadership issues that sustain a healthy democracy.

As you progress through the University, we want you to learn about the grand challenges of our time and of all time. We want you to find what you care about. And we want you to act on your knowledge and passion.  We want to know what grabs your heart and shouts, “Urgent!” In what way will, or must, you change the world?

We want to know what grabs your heart and shouts, “Urgent!”

As you begin to discover the answers to these questions and how you will pursue such critical concerns, we invite you to participate in the various programs and events produced by the Husky Leadership Initiative. Further, consider the set of leadership competencies below. We believe these embody the knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors you should learn to exercise effective and socially responsible leadership.

What do you already know and how do you want to grow?


The Husky Leadership Initiative


Core Tenets

The Husky Leadership Initiative embraces the following core leadership tenets:

Husky Leaders Are…

  • CRITICAL: Graduates are willing and able to think critically about themselves and their social environment.
  • RESPONSIBLE: Graduates acknowledge their commitment to the communities that they build.

Husky Leaders Value…

  • CHANGE: Graduates do not simply accept the status quo; they motivate themselves and influence their communities towards better futures.
  • RELATIONSHIPS: Graduates understand that leadership derives from relationships, not position. Graduates share leadership to create more leaders.

Student Leadership Competencies

This list includes excerpts and summaries from:

Seemiller, C. (2014). The student leadership competencies guidebook: Designing intentional leadership learning and development. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The Student Leadership Competencies consist of sixty competency areas within eight categories. Each of the sixty competency areas includes four competencies that reflect each of the following dimensions:

Knowledge: Knowledge of or understanding of the value of a competency.

  • Do I know how to effectively execute the behavior related to this competency?

Value: Value placed on a competency.

  • Do I believe this competency is important?

Ability (motivation or skill): Internal motivation to engage in a certain behavior or the skill level to perform a certain behavior.

  • Do I have the ability, either the motivation within myself or the skill I need, to be able to effectively execute the behavior related to this competency?

Behavior: Engagement in a certain behavior.

  • Do I effectively engage in this competency when an appropriate situation arises?


Learning and Reasoning


Using effective research strategies to not just gather any information, but the best information. This includes determining what constitutes legitimate research, effectively utilizing available resources when researching, and being able to navigate through the vast array of information to effectively find the necessary information.

Other perspectives

Considering perspectives other than one’s own and allowing new information, differing opinions, and others’ experiences to impress upon one’s thinking and understanding and appreciation of others. Doing so may also lead to finding solutions to problems by looking at them from another’s point of view and learning new information that may shape, confirm, or alter one’s worldview. Believing that everyone can learning something from everyone else

Reflection and Application

Reflecting on experiences, considering the learning gained through reflection and acting in accordance with this learning.

Systems Thinking

Making connections between individual parts in a system to anticipate how the relationships between these parts affect each part and the system as a whole. This type of thinking that recognizes the interrelationships of parts rather than looking at each discrete part within a larger system allows one to derive a solution that addresses the underlying problem and is less likely to have a negative impact on other parts of the system.


Dividing and examining information in detail to have a more comprehensive understanding of the information as a whole in an effort to identify causes, factors, features and impacts of the information.


Identifying a central theme by integrating separate elements into one unified whole. This gives one a perspective that would not otherwise emerge if each piece of information were examined discretely.


Using one’s judgment to estimate the significance of particular information in a specific context, thus determining its value.

Idea generation

Generating new ideas by expanding one’s thinking beyond convention in order to best address an issue. Going beyond one-size-fits-all.

Problem solving

Identifying and examining a problem, developing and assessing possible solutions, and selecting the most appropriate solution to the problem

Decision making

Making each decision appropriate to the context it is situated in.

Self Awareness and Development


Enhancing one’s understanding of one’s personality, beliefs, capacities and interests so as to develop a greater depth of understanding of oneself in order to engage in more authentic and productive behavior.

Personal values

Values are a guiding force for individual behavior. Acting in alignment with one’s own values can contribute to one’s authenticity and ability to inspire others.

Personal contributions

Contributing one’s own ideas, strengths, knowledge, and/or abilities to meet a specific group need that enhances the productivity and effectiveness of the group. The needs of each group and each task differ and call for unique individual assets to best address these needs. Everyone has assets, those aspects of themselves that are helpful and contributory, including ideas, strengths, knowledge and abilities. Leaders give of themselves to make their organizations better.

Scope of competence

Engaging in a task outside one’s capabilities can have harmful effects on others and organizations. Just as it is important to know one’s own strengths, skills and talents that one may bring to a situation, it just as vital for a leader to know what he or she does not bring to the situation. By recognizing one’s own limitations, the leader can engage in those tasks that he or she is capable of and refer those outside of his or her scope of competence to others more competent at the task at hand.

Receiving feedback

Considering feedback from others in an effort to develop one’s own capacity and increase effectiveness with others.


Leaders are always learning. Engaging in self-development opportunities to achieve one’s fullest potential and benefit oneself and others.

Interpersonal Interaction

Productive relationships

Cultivating connections or associations with others that contribute positively to the well-being of those involved in order to have a mutual support system and opportunity for meaningful exchange.

Appropriate interaction

Assessing a situation and engaging in interactions, relations, and exchanges based on what is suitable for the context and person or people being interacted with in order to respect boundaries and create an opportunity for the most effective interaction.

Helping others

Voluntarily giving assistance to others when one has no personal stake in the outcome of the assistance in an effort to make a task or process less difficult or time consuming for others.   Because leaders care about people, they know how valuable it is to help others and foster an environment in which people help each other.


Demonstrating a deep understanding of others by attempting to experience their thoughts and feelings in an effort to appreciate their perspectives and circumstances as well as show genuine care.


Using one’s expertise and experience to teach, coach, share resources, and challenge individuals with less experience and/or knowledge so that they can reach their potential. Doing so is not just good for the individual, but developing the capacities of others could contribute to team productivity, a greater sense of trust, more group legitimacy and foster thoughtful succession planning.


Selecting and applying motivation strategies specific to each person in an effort to best inspire and encourage that person to complete a task or achieve a goal.

Others’ Contributions

Utilizing others’ ideas, strengths, knowledge, and abilities so that each person is operating at his or her highest capacity both for the success and morale of each individual as well as higher productivity and effectiveness of the group; putting the right people in the right places.


Sharing power, information, and resources with others so they can have a sense of ownership, accountability, and commitment regarding a task or process so as to lead to higher-quality work, greater timeliness and follow-through, and greater commitment to the task and team.

Providing feedback

Offering critiques, confirmations, and/or advice in a matter that is timely and respectful in an effort to improve another person’s decisions, effectiveness, productivity or interactions with others.


Providing direction to supervisees so they are clear about what they need to do, the process for doing it, and any expectations the leader has. This direction can provide a sense of clarity and transparency so that others are best situated to complete their intended jobs or tasks.


Working with others toward a common objective through the sharing of ideas and distribution of responsibilities across team members in an effort to reach the objective most effectively.

Group Dynamics

Organizational behavior

Making meaning of individual and group behaviors and their impact within an organization and then using this understanding to effectively navigate the organization.

Power dynamics

Identifying and effectively responding to the internal and external power dynamics that affect a group or organization.

Group development

Assisting groups in developing a sense of shared purpose, commitment, trust and effectiveness so that group members work together in the most effective, efficient, and empowering manner.

Creating change

Using the most appropriate methods of creating change given each situation’s context in order to create change on group, organizational, and/or societal level.

Civic Responsibility


Promoting one’s own and/or others’ exposure to people from a variety of backgrounds, beliefs, and/or experiences to enhance group effectiveness and/or group functioning.

Others’ circumstances

Integrating an understanding or the conditions and/or situations of other individuals and/or groups into one’s behaviors to be inclusive and demonstrate a sense of care.


Engaging in ways to cultivate a welcoming environment that includes others in roles, processes, and experiences to foster a greater sense of belonging and/or a shared commitment.

Social justice

Working toward a more equitable distribution of social power that creates a more fair and just society.

Social responsibility

Acting in ways that benefit, not detract from, the welfare or society and its members in an effort to foster healthy and supportive communities.


Serving one’s community, which is essential to create and maintain a thriving community.


Verbal communication

Effectively communicating verbally with others one on one, in groups, and/or in front of a large audience in order to inform, inspire, influence, counsel, and/or negotiate with others.

Nonverbal communication

Using body language, gestures, facial expressions, and/or contact with and proximity to others to either complement verbal communication or serve as communication in and of itself in an effort to emphasize and/or convey meaning that may not be able to be solely expressed through the use of words.


Engaging in strategies that assist one in accurately receiving a message that someone conveys through verbal communication in an effort to interpret the message as correctly as possible and show care and attention to the communicator.


Communicating effectively in written format, including demonstrating a clear organization of one’s thoughts, using words that reflect one’s intended meaning, and delivering the information in a readable, clear, and concise manner to ensure that others accurately and completely understand the message being conveyed through the writing.


Effectively managing the group process during a meeting, presentation, or gathering without inputting one’s opinion by directing the flow of the discussion, asking prompt questions, and keeping the group on track in an effort to assist the group in reaching the best decision possible in the most productive and inclusive manner.

Conflict negotiation

Effectively managing disagreement, including keeping tension and emotion to a minimum, focusing solely on the issue at hand, balancing the needs and interests of all involved, and finding common ground in a safe, respectful and trusting environment.

Advocating for a point of view

Effectively communicating one’s beliefs, opinions, or ideas so that others clearly and fully understand both the meaning and significance. Doing so to demonstrate one’s passion and commitment and/or influence the opinion of others.

Strategic Planning


Developing an individual or organizational mission statement that reflects the values of the individual/organization and serves as a framework for decision making.


Developing a statement that defines the aspiration and direction of an individual, organization, or community to guide actions and decisions.


Setting goals by laying out targeted measurable objectives that have specified time frames for completion in an effort to give individuals and/or groups small and achievable benchmarks to effectively measure progress and instill a feeling of accomplishment that can continue to provide motivation for achieving an overarching vision.


Laying out a course of action to complete an intended objective by identifying tasks and setting deadlines for completion in an effort to accomplish that objective and work toward a larger goal.


Creating systems and structures that allow one to effectively manage, monitor, and utilize information, resources and materials in an effort to save time, energy and concern.

Personal Behavior


Taking charge of a situation, voluntarily and unprompted by others, especially when one has the expertise or opportunity to do so or when others are not able to.

Functioning independently

Functioning without assistance or guidance from others, such as finding answers to questions on one’s own and monitoring the progress and timeliness of one’s own work in an effort to build one’s knowledge base and confidence as well as not take time from others’ work to assist, answer questions or follow up.


Seeing things through to the end even in the face of adversity in an effort to carry out a commitment to complete a task as well as demonstrate trustworthiness and dependability.

Responsibility for personal behavior

Taking responsibility for one’s own behavior by admitting mistakes, apologizing, rectifying the situation, and accepting the consequences of one’s actions in an effort to correct the situation as well as learn from the experience so as not to repeat it in the future.


Upholding standards of conduct based on socially accepted values to promote productive functioning and well-being of groups and society.

Responding to ambiguity

Responding to an unpredictable situation by adapting one’s plans at the last minute, shifting gears as new information is presented, and/or moving forward without all the information in an effort to both cope and thrive in unknown circumstances.

Responding to change

Quickly, positively, and smoothly transitioning in response to a known or unknown change in an effort to move oneself, a group or organization forward productively.


Bouncing back or recovering after a setback, for both one’s well-being and success as well as to be better able to face stress, challenges and adversity in the future.

Positive attitude

Exhibiting an optimistic outlook by identifying the positive aspects of a situation and displaying a “can-do” attitude in an effort to foster a sense of hope, inspire oneself and others, and maximize the positive aspects of a situation.


Appearing certain of one’s beliefs, knowledge, convictions and/or capabilities in an effort to assure others of one’s competence.


Giving one’s best effort so as to put forth one’s best possible work.