The Social Change Model of Leadership

CampOUT! uses an understanding of leadership that is grounded in the Social Change Model of Leadership (Komives, S. Wagner, W., & Associates, 2009). Below is an outline and history of this pedagogical approach as well as the learning outcomes for the leadership training program.

About the Model:

  • Work began on this model in 1994 and it continues to adapt, update, and change
  • The model attempts to integrate already established concepts in leadership development
  • It provides tools to empower people who are interested in creating positive changes in their communities through nontraditional roles of leadership
  • A key concept of this model is that leadership is a process

Goals of the Model:

  • To enhance learning and development; more specifically, to develop in each participant greater self-knowledge and leadership competence
  • To facilitate positive social change within institutions and the community
  • To undertake actions which will help institutions and communities to function more effectively and humanely

Components of the Leadership Development Model:

The approach to leadership development for the Social Change Model is embedded in collaboration and is concerned with fostering positive social change. The model examines leadership development from three different perspectives:

The Individual: What personal qualities are we attempting to foster and develop in those who participate in a leadership development program? What personal qualities are most supportive of group functioning and positive social change?

The Group: How can the collaborative leadership development process be designed not only to facilitate the development of the desired individual qualities (above) but also to effect positive social change?

The Community/Society: Toward what social ends is the leadership development activity directed? What kinds of service activities are most effective in energizing the group and in developing desired personal qualities in the individual?

The 8 C’s of Leadership:
The Social Change Model of Leadership is centered on eight critical values:

  • Consciousness of Self
  • Congruence
  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Common Purpose
  • Controversy with Civility
  • Citizenship
  • Change
  • CampOUT! adds a critical 9th value – Camping!

Background: Why did CampOUT! choose this model of leadership?
CampOUT! values community building, equity, accessibility, inclusion, diversity, process, social change, and nontraditional leadership roles. This model incorporates these values.

In practice: How does CampOUT! use this model of leadership?

  • Developing Self:  We create opportunities for participants to increase self-awareness, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills
  • Collaboration: We facilitate opportunities to learn about each other’s differences in learning and leadership styles and life experiences as we work together with common purpose. The emphasis on group work is a container to explore collaborative processes and effect positive social change.
  • Reflection: We offer time for personal reflection, encourage deep listening, and build in evaluative feedback from participants
  • Practice: Leadership development activities are directed towards creating a welcoming, inclusive, and inspirational camping community.

Knowledge building: How do we teach this model of leadership?

  • We model it in our planning processes, meetings, training, and programming
  • We offer opportunities to learn about power and privilege
  • We share the 9 C’s and engage in discussion and activities to explore these values
  • We are committed to creating space for self-reflection, journaling, leadership team meetings, cabin time, debriefing, discussions, leading by example, community reflection, openness to learning, working together, collaboration, and having FUN! It is within these spaces of self-reflection that the ideas of this model of leadership can take root and grow!


Komives, S. R., Wagner, W., & Associates (2009). Leadership for a Better World: Understanding the Social Change Model of Leadership Development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Astin, H. S., & Astin, A. R. (1996). A Social Change Model of Leadership Development Guidebook Version III. Los Angeles, CA: Higher Education Research Institute, University of California.