Leadership development philosophy

How we view leadership and leadership development

Ethical and effective leadership is a core value and a central theme of Gettysburg’s mission: “to prepare students to pursue lives of personal and professional fulfillment, and to engage the complex questions of our time through effective leadership and socially responsible citizenship.”

Leadership and leadership development

We believe leadership is ethical, inclusive, collaborative, and directed towards effecting change for the greater good. We believe:

  • Leadership potential lies within everyone and can be learned
  • Leadership is ethical and values-based
  • Leadership is collaborative and group-oriented
  • Leadership is about engaging difference
  • Leadership is about empowering and serving with others
  • Leadership is about taking action and making a difference

How leaders learn at Gettysburg College

Today’s generation of Gettysburgians aspires to be the leaders our world needs. At the Garthwait Leadership Center, we teach them how.

Students and young alumni engage with four primary questions which guide their leadership development.

  1. Who am I as a leader? (identity)
  2. What skills do I want to develop? (skills)
  3. How do I define leadership? (worldview)
  4. What do I know about how to lead? (theory)

We use a variety of theories/models and practices to engage students in leadership development which primarily include experiential learning (including reflection), outdoor education, coaching, mentoring, facilitation, and self-assessment/feedback.

Five core areas

The leadership skills we teach at the GLC stem from five core areas.


Owning and upholding a commitment to personal, group, and institutional values in thought and act, also known doing what you say you’re going to do (congruence).


An ability to authentically and realistically assess who you are.

  • Articulate values and beliefs
  • Identify strengths and opportunities for growth and development
  • Recognize the intersections of personal identity
  • Practice self-reflection


An ability to work with others towards a common purpose.

  • Facilitate a common purpose
  • Appreciate & engage difference
  • Model giving feedback
  • Share power and authority


An ability to have an effect on others independent of formal power.

  • Demonstrate effective communication
  • Set the example for others
  • Motivate others
  • Mentor and coach others

Transformational action

An ability to see the big picture, develop a strategy, and facilitate change.

  • Create a vision, goals, and a plan
  • Develop skills and competencies to execute the plan
  • Foster growth by realizing the potential of others
  • Execute change with agility

Learn about our core values