Participants in the Instructor-Led Course:
Before the first class session, please read the materials on this page and complete the assignment.
Click here to watch George Washington University’s Kathleen Schafer give the
In this course, you will:
Leadership in Action
Leadership Principles at Work: Stay true to your core values and identity
Cesar Chavez’s leadership was rooted in his dedication to exploited farm workers. He was shy and not a great public speaker, but he didn’t need to change who he was to attract supporters; he gained support through his conviction and the strength of his values. Even after he became famous, he continued living a modest lifestyle of self-sacrifice. In 1968, he fasted to reaffirm his principles of nonviolence, and workers came from around the country to support him and affirm his vision.
He was far from a great public speaker, but even that became a virtue. Listeners warmed to his lack of bombast. They loved his unvarying worker’s uniform: worn Levis, open-necked cotton shirts, scuffed hush puppies…[The national media praised him] but the man kept his bearings. Our strength lies in the workers, he’d remind his staff. Never think that we are the union; the farm workers put us here.1
Rediscover who you are.
Leadership in Action
Leadership Principles at Work: Take advantage of your unique strengths
In 2005, Asma Maria Andraos was a successful events organizer living in Beirut, Lebanon. She had never been interested in politics or activism, but when a car bomb killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, Asma was motivated to take action. She realized that her events planning career had given her a unique set of skills she could use in an activism campaign:
Event planning teaches you to be organized, and you have to be very organized when you are managing people, when you are under stress on a day-to-day basis. Understanding of how the media operate was instrumental. Make sure that you quickly recognize who the other people who look good on the camera and speak the language well are, and identify them first, so that whenever a television is coming over, you know who to send…That is part of my normal business, [so] of course I put it to use as well.2
With this particular skill set, Asma helped organize a sit-in at Martyrs' Square in Beirut and a petition at Hariri's gravesite calling for the withdrawal of Syrian military forces from Lebanon.
Read more about Asma Andraos’ leadership...
What is Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type?
Gaining a better understanding of your personality can help give you new insight into your strengths and weaknesses and tell you what leadership style may come most naturally to you. The Myers-Briggs personality type system classifies human personalities into sixteen different types based on four variables:
Based on these variables, there are four main temperament types:
Keep in mind that these classifications are not meant to “put you in a box,” limit you, or give you a definitive judgment about who you are. They can, however, give you new insight into your personality and ways to develop your strengths. You can take a Myers-Briggs test here to determine what your personality type is.
The following resources provide descriptions of the sixteen personality types:
Leadership Principles at Work: Follow your passion!
Jody Williams, founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, began her activism work with uncertainty about whether she could really pursue her passion:
When I was approached with the idea of trying to create a landmine campaign, we were just three people in a small office in Washington, DC in late 1991. I had more than a few ideas about how to begin a campaign, but what if nobody cared? What if nobody responded? But I knew the only way to answer those questions was to accept the challenge.3
By accepting that challenge, Williams expanded from “three people in a small office” to an international network that rallied support for the Mine Ban Treaty from 122 countries in a span of just six years.
Read more about Jody Williams’ leadership...
Choosing Your Goals and Objectives
First, make sure your goal is achievable and tied to a timeline. Next, determine what smaller steps will help you achieve your goal. These steps will be your objectives. Ask yourself the following questions when setting your objectives:
Writing Your Vision
Your vision statement should encapsulate the reason you have chosen to become an activist. It should describe the change you want to create, no matter how big or small. It is your vision that will sustain you and keep you motivated as you strive to create change.
Leadership Principles at Work: Let your vision guide you
Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger, holds a vision for a democratic Egypt where civil liberties and rights are respected.
I am a regular Egyptian who wants my country to be better. I want to see transfer of power, democracy, freedom, and freedom of opinion and expression.4
Of course, Abbas cannot achieve all of this on his own. But he works towards this change through his blog activity. He has posted videos and photos documenting government repression of political protests, sexual harassment in Cairo, election fraud, the assault and torture of political dissidents, and gruesome incidents of police brutality. Through it all, he says:
All I wanted was for my country to change, to become more democratic, and to recognize the basic rights of its citizens. So I focused my work on making people aware of what was going on and helping them understand their rights.5
1. Take the Myers-Briggs test online.
2. Make a post in the forum in which you:
3. Afterwards, provide feedback to at least one other person’s post. You can:
1 Coplon, Jeff. Cesar Chavez’s Fall from Grace (part 1). Village Voice. 14 Aug. 1984.
2 Andraos, Asma. Interview with the Online Activism Institute. 2008.
3 Williams, Jody. "When Ordinary People Achieve Extraordinary Things." All Things Considered, 9 Jan. 2006.
4 El-Jesri, Manal. "Free For All." Egypt Today 28:2 (Feb. 2007).
5 Abbas, Wael. "Acceptance speech at ICFJ award dinner." YouTube, 19 Dec. 2007.
Go on to Part 2: Planning!