Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: an Ontological / Phenomenological Model


“You will leave this course being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as your natural self-expression.”

of having made a significant difference for participants, whether they already held a major leadership position or had little to no leadership experience.

An Ontological Approach to Leadership Education

The Foundation for Ontological Leadership Education (FOLE) is a charitable US organization committed to the training and development of faculty leading the course Being A Leader and The Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological / Phenomenological Model in their accredited universities and colleges throughout the world.

Ontology is the study or science of the nature and function of being or existence – and in this course, we are concerned with the nature and function of being for human beings.  Phenomenology is the method used in ontological inquiry.  Phenomenology concerns the nature and function of our perception of or awareness of (that is, our access to) the world, others, and ourselves.

From Harvard’s Handbook for Teaching Leadership, “How does one teach leadership in a way that not only informs them about leadership but also transforms them into actually being leaders?  …this eclectic group of scholars argues for adopting a decidedly ontological approach to leadership education that promises to leave students actually being leaders.”[1]

In this unique leadership course, faculty make the following bold promise to their students: “You will leave this course being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as your natural self-expression.”

[1] Snook, Scott, Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, eds. The Handbook for Teaching Leadership: Knowing, Doing, and Being. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2012.

Interested in Research on this Course?

A number of our faculty have conducted peer-reviewed academic research on this leadership course.
Three of those studies are linked below. 

FOLE is committed to encouraging and supporting critical research into this unique ontological / phenomenological model of leadership education. Join us in supporting this research; visit our donations page.

Creating Leaders: A Pilot SoTL Study of an Ontological / Phenomenological Leadership Course

Can We Create the ‘Being’ of Leadership?: A Mixed-Methods Study of Two Leadership Pedagogies at a Southwestern, U.S. University

Creating Leaders: A Pilot Pre/Post Evaluation of an Ontological/Phenomenological Model

If you are interested in learning more about research in this area, please contact: