Leadership Consultations Banner

Leadership consultation is a free service the Center for Leadership provides for Cal Poly students, staff, and faculty. Consultations are a meeting to gain advice about how you can bring and infuse leadership into curriculum, a staff training, and more.

Our hope for a consultation is to provide you with tools and resources that you can facilitate and we will make sure you leave your meeting feeling prepared to facilitate the ideas we provide you. We do not provide full lesson plans but rather ideas for videos, resources, activities, and more. 

Students can also use the consultation as a time to discuss their leadership journey and how they can maximize their leadership experiences and learning at Cal Poly. 

Please email leadership@calpoly.edu with any questions or concerns.

If you would like to request a one-on-one consulting appointment or workshop, presentation, or activity for a group, organization, class, or department please complete the request form below.

Leadership Domains and Competencies

If you are wondering what types of leadership sessions you might want to bring to your organization, group, or class we encourage you to explore the following competencies. Leadership requires a variety of skills and understanding and these options can help you think through what areas of growth you all are interested in. 

You do not have to come to us seeking ideas for these specific areas; however, reviewing them before then may help you narrow down what leadership areas and skills you want to focus on. 

Intrapersonal Development

Knowledge of self, personal goal setting and purpose, and decision-making based on principles, values, and beliefs. 


  • Reflection and Application
    • Reflecting on the past to better understand situations, strategies, and the true impact of decisions can help leaders learn from the past and apply lessons to the future. Reflection allows for an enhanced understanding of individual, group, and organizational needs and strengths. 
  • Self-Understanding
    • Self-awareness is vital to effective leadership. Not understanding how to change or working from one’s weaknesses rather than strengths can have a devastating impact on others. However, leaders who understand their feelings, beliefs, and values can emphasize strengths and mitigate weaknesses in their leadership style. 
  • Personal Values
    • Values are a guiding force for individual behavior. Being aware of one’s own values can help leaders prioritize organizational initiatives and make decisions congruent with their values. Leaders who practice their values through leadership can influence and inspire others to work with them. 
  • Personal Contributions
    • Leaders who know their strengths and talents can utilize that knowledge to lead more effectively. A leader who contributes the strength of compassion when someone in the group falls on hard times can positively impact others, a skilled web designer in an organization without that skill can fill a need in the group.  Leaders utilize their strengths to make their organization(s) better. 
  • Scope of Competencies
    • While it is important for individuals to know their strengths, skills, and talents, it is just as important for leaders to know their areas for growth. This allows leaders to leverage other strengths, skills, or talents to fulfill a task or tap into the strengths, skills, or talents of others. This supports group success and allows individual strengths to shine. 
  • Receiving Feedback
    • For leaders to continue to develop and empower others, self-awareness is key. Sometimes, it takes feedback from others to illuminate areas for improvement. The ability to seek, consider, and then integrate feedback from others is crucial for leaders to develop their competencies and ability to work with others. 
  • Self-Development 
    • Whether learning new technology or improving public speaking skills, leaders are always learning. They may do this voluntarily like seeking out training or out of necessity based on their role or the group’s needs. 
  • Initiative
    • Leadership often requires action and leaders sometimes need to take charge in a situation or motivate the group. The ability to make things happen and inspire others are important leadership skills. 
  • Functioning Independently 
    • The ability to function independently of others fosters a sense of trust and accountability. While some tasks require collaboration, it’s important to be able to complete a task with little oversight. Working independently builds confidence, supports critical thinking skills, demonstrates follow through and initiative. 
  • Follow-Through 
    • People need to be able to trust each other to follow through on their commitments. Demonstrating consistent follow through allows for successful task completion and demonstrates trustworthiness and reliability. 
  • Responsibility for Personal Behavior 
    • People make poor choices and mistakes, but leadership is demonstrated in the way those actions are handled. Leaders accept responsibility, acknowledge their mistakes, and seek to repair the harm that has been done. Acknowledging personal responsibility demonstrates honesty, integrity, and allows the leader to make reparations and learn from the experience in order to not repeat the same mistakes. 
  • Ethics
    • Role modeling ethical decision making is an important aspect of leadership. Leaders should hold themselves to high standards of personal conduct and consider the potential consequences of their decisions. Ethical leadership supports trust, cares for others, and role models organizational values. 
  • Responding to Ambiguity
    • Leadership is a process of learning to adapt to a world filled with unknowns. Leaders need to be able to adapt quickly, change direction, and move forward even in uncertain times. Leaders acknowledge that new information may alter pre-existing plans or require new ways of thinking, requiring a certain level of comfort with ambiguity and unpredictability.  
  • Responding to Change
    • Change can be unpredictable, frequent, and necessary. The way leaders respond to change can set the tone for others, shaping the group’s attitude to change and the transition’s success. Leaders must be flexible, optimistic, and adaptable in order to help coach others through change.  
  • Resiliency 
    • Leadership requires facing and persevering through challenges, setbacks, adverse circumstances, and disappointment. Leadership requires the ability to bounce back and learn from difficult situations. 
  • Positive Attitude
    • Life is full of unexpected challenges, changes, and tough decisions. Attitude shapes how one responds to difficult circumstances. Positivity fosters optimism, hope, enthusiasm, and inspiration in difficult times. 
  • Confidence
    • Confidence supports personal success and fosters trust among members. Acting with confidence can comfort and empower others, and enable individuals to pursue new ideas. However, it is important not to be overly confident, especially in situations with limited experience or knowledge. 
  • Excellence 
    • One’s ability to lead is a reflection of the work they put forward. Leadership requires a commitment to producing high quality results, inspiring others to continue to excel.

Interpersonal Development

Meaningful and healthy relationships; effective communication and collaboration skills. 


  • Productive Relationships
    • Leadership involves having meaningful connections and relationships. Leaders who cultivate healthy, mutually beneficial relationships create supportive, trusting environments, fostering open communication, honest dialogue, and shared vision. 
  • Appropriate Interaction
    • Individuals have different personalities, experiences, and preferences. Leadership involves interacting with others in ways that are appropriate and respectful of others’ needs and styles. 
  • Helping Others
    • Leaders invest and care in people and foster environments and structures to provide support for others in times of need. 
  • Empathy
    • Empathy builds strong relationships and plays an important role in leadership. Empathetic leaders are more equipped to consider and understand different perspectives, allowing for more effective and informed decision making. 
  • Mentoring
    • Mentoring allows individuals and teams to share their knowledge, abilities, and experiences in order to support learning, development, and success. Mentoring supports strong relationships, contributes to team productivity, and even distribution of work.  
  • Motivation
    • Motivation helps individuals and groups work on projects with the bigger picture in mind. Leaders and effective collaborators strive to understand and play to peoples’ motivations to help people engaged in effective strategies for success. 
  • Others’ Contributions
    • Leaders value the unique ideas, strengths, and abilities that individuals bring and integrate others’ ideas, strengths, and abilities to better address problems, build relationships, and innovate. 
  • Empowerment
    • Sharing and empowering helps others feel a sense of ownership and responsibility, and accountability to a task or process. Everybody benefits from empowered teammates, as people are happier, are more committed to the team, and produce higher quality products. 
  • Providing Feedback
    • Providing feedback helps others work more productively, efficiently, and successfully.  Appropriate feedback and resources sharing also helps others achieve their goals and can improve working relationships among people. 
  • Supervision
    • The ability to effectively oversee the work of others (formally or informally), is essential to the development, growth, and success of individuals and the organization. Leaderships requires the ability to provide guidance, communicate clear expectations, and build reciprocal relationships with colleagues.  
  • Collaboration 
    • Working with others to solve challenging problems or complete complex tasks is usually more effective than working alone.  Collaboration includes diverse voices and perspectives and is predicated on a sense of group commitment, common purpose, and shared responsibility. 
  • Organizational Behavior
    • Organizations and the individuals that comprise them create and sustain their own culture, norms, symbols, and practices. Leaders need to not understand and anticipate, navigate, and respond to the organization in order to lead effectively.  . 
  • Group Development 
    • Teamwork is not just about achieving outcomes, but about participating in a process. On a team, everybody has a responsibility to follow and support group development, ensure members feel connected and commitment, and foster trust. Effective groups, comprised of leaders, share ideas, give feedback, follow through, and make difficult decisions. 
  • Facilitation
    • To best utilize the group process, leaders need to be able to effectively lead discussions, ask the right questions, and synthesize information. Facilitation enables groups to maximize their potential, solve challenging problems, and generate new ideas. 
  • Conflict Negotiation 
    • Conflict is inevitable. Avoiding or mishandling conflict can result in strained relationships, difficulty working together, trust issues, and can escalate beyond control. As leaders, it is everybody’s responsibility to address and effectively negotiate conflict with others.   

Cultural Understanding

Consideration and knowledge of diverse identities and perspectives; understanding of culture, privilege, and power 


  • Other Perspectives 
    • Nobody has all the answers, leaders should consider others’ opinions, perspectives, and experiences to find the best solutions and make the most just decisions. 
  • Diversity 
    • Leadership is an interpersonal process that requires the ability to work across difference. Oftentimes, those differences add value to the group. Effective leaders value diversity seek to promote and include diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. 
  • Inclusion 
    • Leadership occurs with people, for people.  Including people and their experiences fosters safe environments, productive, groups, and sense of belonging. 
  • Social Justice 
    • Leadership exists within larger social systems that involve inequitable distribution of power. Effective leaders have an understanding of social power, the inequities that exist, and are motivated to address inequitable systems. Socially just leaders challenge individuals and systems that reinforce inequities.  

Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement

Individual and community well-being; responsibilities of an individual in a community; consideration of global perspectives and systems 


  • Power Dynamics
    • Power dynamics (internal, external, formal, informal) impact nearly every group. These power dynamics may be influenced by position, seniority, resource access, and/or relationships of its members or stakeholders. Leaders must understand existing power dynamics in order to navigate and respond to the group’s needs. 
  • Creating Change 
    • Change is inevitable, but it can be challenging for people, structures and processes. Poorly implemented change can cause damage, therefore leadership should help create change that is sensitive to people and context in order to move the organization forward. 
  • Others’ Circumstances 
    • Considering and understanding other peoples’ circumstances and perspectives helps people make connections, make more appropriate decisions, and support group dynamics.  
  • Social Responsibility
    • Socially responsible leadership considers individual and societal responsibility to the community; leaders should engage in positive behaviors that foster healthy, caring, and ethical communities. 
  • Service and Community Involvement 
    • Community involvement in community processes and decision making, collaborative initiatives, volunteer positions, or community service leads to strong communities. Leaders model community involvement and find ways to contribute personally and/or professionally to the development of a thriving community.

Practical Competence

Skills for personal, professional, and academic success 


  • Research 
    • Effective research skills allow people to examine a variety of information in order to produce and distinguish useful, legitimate information most applicable to each situation. 
  • Systems Thinking
    • Leadership is about individual, organizational, and community networks. Decisions can have impacts far beyond the immediate scope of the decision maker. Leaders must be able to understand networks and be able to navigate through the ripple effects of decisions and consider the network in decision making. 
  • Analysis
    • Leaders are confronted everyday with decisions that may have financial, organizational, political, social, or interpersonal effects.  Leaders need to understand multiple facets of situations in order to make meaning of the situation and make the best decision possible. 
  • Synthesis
    • Leadership requires the ability to effectively manage necessary information. Leaders must be able to look at diverse pieces of information and make connections to understand the big picture and make effective and sustainable decisions. 
  • Evaluation
    • Leaders make difficult decisions every day, necessitating an ability to sift through a vast array of information. Leaders must be able to look at all of this information and determine what information is most useful or informative, informing effective decision making.  
  • Developing Original Ideas 
    • Leadership involves navigating a variety of people, perspectives, and circumstances. Complexity does not lend itself to a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, it is vital that leaders create plans, processes, and solutions to better address unique challenges. 
  • Problem Solving
    • Problem solving abilities are essential to successful leadership. Problem solvers recognize connections and systems within groups and organizations. Effective problem solving prevents damage and recurring problems and can positively benefit others and the organization. 
  • Decision Making 
    • Leadership and effective teamwork requires decision making that is sensitive to context, individual needs, group goals, and resource constraints. Recognizing and navigating factors in decision making allows for effective, productive, and sustainable decision making. 
  • Verbal Communication
    • Excellent verbal communication fosters effective leadership and interpersonal dynamics. Whether public speaking, presenting, leading a meeting, or communicating one-on-one, effective verbal communication conveys confidence, leadership, and lends itself to successful interactions. 
  • Non-verbal Communication
    • Communication extends beyond verbal communication to include body language, gestures, and other cues that convey meaning. Non-verbal communication allows leaders to fully express their intended meaning, show care, concern, honesty, and demonstrate listening skills.  
  • Listening
    • Listening is essential to effective communication. Effective listening prevents miscommunication, supports understanding, provides feedback, and communicates value to those being listened to. 
  • Writing 
    • Writing as communication is employed to create a vision or strategic plan, create proposals, share performance evaluations, and communicate electronically. Poor writing leads to miscommunication, misrepresentation, and missed opportunities. Effective writing helps organize ideas, inspire others, share perspectives, and recognize accomplishments. 
  • Advocating for a Point of View 
    • Clear communication supports successful advocacy for a point of view or opinion. Successfully articulating and advocating for a point of view requires the ability to convey meaning, facts, and influence others. Effective communication allows individuals and leaders to share their values, passions, and advocate for a specific opinion or belief. 
  • Organization
    • Leadership also requires an ability to manage multiple sources of information, processes, materials, and resources. By creating systems and structures to manage these processes, leaders help groups function more effectively and support the success of others. 
  • Time Management 
    • Time management skills are required to help individuals and groups successfully make decisions and complete tasks within a specific time frame. Effective time management skills should fit individual needs and strengths and an essential part of leadership development.  
  • Strategic Planning: Mission, Vision, Goals, Plan
    • Mission: A mission statement is a summary of an individual’s or organization’s values; it serves as a decision-making compass so that all decisions are made in alignment with the values. 
    • Vision: Vision is an aspiration or a picture of what the ideal future looks like, as an individual, organization or community. Developing and having vision can help people develop strategies, goals, and plans that align with the vision. 
    • Goals: Creating smaller goals to support the mission and vision are the key to achievement. Goals are smaller, measurable, time-sensitive objectives that contribute to the larger mission and vision. 
    • Plan: Creating road maps, identifying tasks, and setting deadlines are important planning and leadership skills. 


  • Seemiller, C. (2013). The Student Leadership Competencies Guidebook: Designing Intentional Leadership Learning and Development. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
  • University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (2012). Student Involvement Guide and Workbook. Retrieved from http://www4.uwm.edu/sao/publications/manuals/Involvement%20Guide%20and%20Workbook%20Fall%202012%20FINAL.pdf
  • What is the T? (2015). T-Summit. Retrieved from http://tsummit2014.org/t

Related Content