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Teach: Leadership Overview Tools

The following tools are some of our favorites for giving students an overview of what positive leadership is before we dive into the details of the individual components.

  • Please tell our community about how you use these tools and ask others for advice about how they use the tools on our LinkedIn groups page.
  • If you have tools that you like to use when overviewing leadership, and you are willing to share them with us, please let us know by sending a message to

University of Louisville Athletic Department: The Endless Comeback

Free! This tool can be requested from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Case
    • By Ryan W. Quinn
    • Date of Publication: 2022
  • Summary: This case study reviews the changes in leadership in the University of Louisville athletic department and whether all of the work that the department had done to build a new and better organizational culture was enough to sustain recent turnovers, a pandemic, market incentives for university coaches and student-athletes, and massive institutional changes.

Organizational Culture and Positive Leadership Technical Note

Free! This note can be requested from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Technical Note
    • By Ryan W. Quinn
    • Date of Publication: 2022
  • Summary: Based on reports heard and read from Leslie Perlow— including “The Time Famine: Toward a Sociology of Work Time.” Administrative Science Quarterly (1999) and Finding Time: How Corporations, Individuals, and Families Can Benefit from New Work Practices (1997). The Quiet Time story provides a useful illustration of organizational culture and the benefits and limits of management. In this note, we introduce the idea of positive leadership and examine its role in changing organizational culture and management in more detail. This note is recommended to be paired with The University of Louisville Athletic Department: The Endless Comeback. 

Customized Learning: Management Team Conflict Role Play

Free! This tool can be requested from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Case
    • By Ryan W. Quinn
    • Date of Publication: 2021
  • Summary: This is a five-person role play in which a management team must come up with a prioritized list of results for the company to achieve within the next three years. In addition to being used to teach leadership, it can be used to teach management topics such as goal-setting, strategy development, conflict management, or team design. As a leadership activity, it is useful in its generality, can be used for a general discussion of leadership, and also dive deeply into specific leadership topics.

Structured Ethical Reflection Activities

Free! This tool can be requested from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Activity
    • By Mary Brydon-Miller and Mark Leach
    • Date of Publication: 2021
  • Summary: This document walks readers through a series of reflection and discussion activities designed to get users to reflect more critically on ethical activities in their organizations. It is oriented toward working managers but can be adapted for students. The reflections involve analyzing the practices of specific organizations, selecting, defining, and implementing one’s values in one’s work responsibilities, and seeking and receiving feedback. The activity comes with an accompanying teaching note, PPL-2021-113-TN, and is designed to be paired with the technical note PPL-2021-114, “Research on Structured Ethical Reflection.”

Research on Structured Ethical Reflection

Free! This tool can be requested from the Project on Positive Leadership.

  • Technical Note
    • By Mary Brydon-Miller and Mark Leach
    • Date of Publication: 2021
  • Summary: This document reviews the research background for PPL-2021-113, “Structured Ethical Reflection Activities.” It focuses in particular on the research on ethical decision-making.

Lift: The Fundamental State of Leadership

  • Book
    • Price: $10.99 – $16.48
    • By Ryan W. Quinn and Robert E. Quinn
    • Berrett-Koehler
    • Date of Publication: 2015
  • Summary: This book describes a model of leadership that focuses on individual episodes of leadership rather than on positions, personality traits, behavioral tendencies, or other enduring distinctions. The first two chapters and the final three chapters provide overview concepts that can be used at the beginning and end of a course or a module. The middle eight chapters focus on specific virtues (purpose-centeredness is closely related to ambition, the internal direction is closely related to integrity, other-focus is closely related to compassion, and external openness is closely related to curiosity).

Global Leadership in a Dynamic and Evolving Region: Molinas @ the Coca-Cola Company

  • Case
    • Price $4.25
    • By Tsedal Neeley and Esel Cekin
    • Harvard Business Publishing
    • Date of Publication: 2017
  • Summary: This case can be used as a tool for overviewing positive leadership because the challenges are complex but can also be broken down into a series of events, and positive leadership can be practiced in those events. In each event, in addition to breaking down the problems, the instructor can also help students practice unpacking conventions, acquiring moral insight, planning action, comparing stakeholders, and anticipating likely reactions, consistent with the model of positive leadership.

Turn the Ship Around!

  • Book
    • Price: About $16.00
    • By L. David Marquet
    • Penguin Random House
    • Date of Publication: 2013
  • Summary: This book is filled with examples of leadership that illustrate well the model of positive leadership. For any given chapter, an instructor can ask students to identify (a) the convention that was limiting excellence, (b) the action that showed more excellence than would have been exhibited if the person had conformed to a convention, (c) what virtue(s) were exhibited, (d) what other-praising emotions followers felt, (e) how they followed, and (f) what moral insight was required to see that the action was possible. As students break these questions down, story after story, they can also address questions about how these actions accumulated to create a different organizational culture and why this kind of change does not happen more often.

VIA Character Strengths Assessment

  • Online Survey
    • Price: Free
    • Written by Todd Dilbeck MA CC-AASP, Sheldon High School (California), Revised by Scott Reed, Virginia Welle, Randy Ernst
    • American Psychological Association
    • Copyright 2020
  • Summary: Although we focus on positive leadership as something that happens within events, some find it useful to focus on more enduring characteristics. If this is the case, then the VIA character assessment is helpful, and the virtues it assesses overlap with the virtues used in Leadership Workout. The lesson plan at this site is designed for high school, but it is easily adapted for executives or university students.

Leadership Character Insight Assessment

  • Online survey
    • Price $50-$235
    • Created by Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts, & Jeffrey Gandz
    • Published by Sigma Assessment Systems
  • Summary: This assessment is oriented more toward managers in corporations and other organizations rather than to the general public. Virtues in this tool also overlap with virtues in Leadership Workout. There are also many tools provided by the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario that complement this assessment.