Skip to main content

Teach: Ambition Tools

The tools on this page can be used to teach ambition, aspiration, drive, hope, initiative, or proactivity.
• If you would like to request those tools which were created by the Project on Positive Leadership, please click here.
• Please tell our community about how you use these tools and ask people for advice about how they use the tools on our LinkedIn groups page.
• If you have tools that you like to use when teaching ambition, and you are willing to share them with us, please let us know by sending a message to

Problem Solving versus Purpose Finding

Free tool available upon request from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Author: Ryan Quinn
  • Date: 2020
  • Slides: 11
  • Summary: These slides and accompanying teaching notes present a series of mini-cases that students can read and then discuss as a class what they might do. The cases help students get a visceral feel for why we get stuck on problems, why it is hard to think in terms of purpose rather than problems, and the benefits are for learning how to think differently. Using these cases in the classroom prepares students to be more ambitious when they make plans in the Leadership Workout app because these cases show them how to think through when and how it is a good thing to be ambitious. It is also useful for thinking through the ethics of ambition.

Apathy, Ambition, and Selfishness Stories

Free tool available upon request from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Publisher: University of Louisville College of Business
  • Author: Ryan Quinn
  • Date: 2020
  • Series: Virtues and Vices
  • Pages: 5
  • Summary: This is one of the tools that makes up the Project on Positive Leadership’s “Virtues and Vices” series of instructional tools. It contains four stories of ambition, apathy, or selfishness. A tool with multiple stories enables students to examine what is required to exhibit ideal ambition across different settings, and to account for the differing perspectives of multiple stakeholders. Each story includes carefully-crafted reflection questions to provoke the students’ learning, to prepare them for class, to prepare themselves to practice ambition, and to motivate them to be more mindful about their approach to leadership.

Their Grass is Greener! Pay Conflict at Yuanbo Education Group

  • Case
    • Price: $4.25
    • By Ann Peng, Hongling Jiang, and Bing Qian Ling
    • Ivey Publishing
  • Summary: This is a case on reward systems and motivation, but it can be useful for discussing motivation because ambition is so closely related to it. The case allows a class to discuss questions such as “Are people ambitious when driven by external motivators, or should ambition be independent of external motivators?” “Does social comparison turn ambition into selfishness?” “What is the relationship between justice and ambition?” “How could the employees in this case become ambitious, just, and generous, rather than apathetic or selfish?” “What could human resources do to help from a management perspective?” “What can be done from a leadership perspective?”
Chinese (Simplified)EnglishGermanHindiRussian