The STARS Model of Leadership combines aspects of each of the previous models of emergent leadership we have studied in this class. Emergent leadership models in general have the following strengths and weaknesses (all of the following are taken from the "Complex Adaptive Systems" website


  • Do not result in bureaucratic hierarchical structure
  • Spontaneous and creative
  • Can lead to extremely powerful and constructive organizational force
  • Can lead to unplanned innovations


  • Emergent leadership is generally excluded from the mainstream aspects of leadership thought to be necessary for the ongoing running of organizations
  • Since emergent leadership is contrasted with planned, or formal leadership, its resulting structures may be seen as informal and therefore weak (i.e., people may be unwilling to recognize or accept the 'power structure')
  • Not widespread across business and institutions yet - still seen as similar phenomena to that of the 'charismatic leader' who is often acting as an advocate for a small religious group or social reform movement

By analyzing each model of emergent leadership separately, we have been able to identify key themes which cut across all of them and as a result, have been able to synthesize them into one cohesive model of leadership based on five values:

1. Service
2. Trust
3. Awareness
4. Responsibility
5. Standards


If we work toward adopting these five values into our everyday lives, we believe we can become more effective leaders. The following is an analysis of each value as it relates specifically to the STARS Model of Leadership, as well as examples of where these values can be found in the other emergent leadership models.

We have chosen service as the first aspect of our leadership model because as a group, we could not agree more with the fact that “true leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others” (Spears 11). What stands out to us most when it comes to servant leadership is, unlike many of the authors of the leadership books on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, proponents of servant leadership do not suggest that it is a “quick fix approach” (Spears 12); rather, they suggest that “at its core, servant leadership is a long-term, transformational approach to life and work - in essence, a way of being - that has the potential for creating positive change throughout our society” (Spears 12). Through three of its ten principles, listening, empathy, and awareness, servant leadership encompasses the Relational Leadership Model’s idea of "Inclusion." In order to create an inclusive environment for those you are attempting to serve, leaders must be good listeners, possess a desire to relate to others and look at things from others’ points of view, and have a willingness not only to be aware of oneself and others, but to encourage others to be aware of one another, as well. Also, through its principle of commitment to the growth of people, servant leadership encompasses the practice of "Strengthening Others" under "Enabling Others to Act" from The 5 Exemplary Practices of Leadership. In other words, a commitment to service leads to a commitment to the growth and strengthening of others, which in turn leads to others, who might otherwise be reluctant to act, becoming enabled and encouraged to act and make a difference.

Patch Adams

Trust is another key theme that is essential to effective leadership. Both the leader and the constituents must trust one another in order to work together successfully. This theme can be seen in the “Congruence” aspect of the Social Change Model, which stresses the importance of honesty towards others. Often times, the first step in building a trusting relationship is to gain the trust of another person being honest and providing them with a reason to trust you. Acting with integrity and in a way that is consistent with your own beliefs is necessary for other people to view you as a trustworthy person.

Trust can also be seen in the “Inclusion” aspect of the Relational Leadership Model. This aspect of this model leads to each member of the group being valued for their individuality and the unique ideas they can bring to the table. By fostering an inclusive group atmosphere, individuals begin to feel that they are an essential piece of the puzzle. This, in turn, makes group members more trusting of one another because they feel that their contributions are thoughtfully listened to and appreciated. Trustworthiness is a key part of the Service Leadership model, as well, and specifically under the category of “Stewardship.” This is an important value because the individuals in a group, as well as the group as a whole, must trust that their organization is acting for the “greater good of society.” (Spears, 15) Servant leadership reaffirms that groups exist to effect positive change, and that all members must trust that their group has the power to do this in order for goals to be accomplished.


is also an important aspect of leadership. Leaders needs to be not only self-aware, but aware of the situation of their group, as well. They need to be able to analyze different situations, take into consideration all the variables, and act accordingly in order to ensure the success of their group. Constituents in group, like the leader, must also be personally aware of themselves and the situation of the. In conjunction with our STARS Model, awareness also one of the ten principles of Servant Leadership. The type of awareness that Servant Leadership condones is self-awareness, specifically so that leaders can develop their ability to better understand issues dealing with ethics and values. Awareness allows leaders to “get on the balcony” and gain a more integrated, holistic perspective. Many see awareness as a state of mind, but we see it as an ability. The ability for a leader to be aware makes them keenly perceptive of every part of his/her group and thus enables him/her to lead more effectively. A very similar example is present in the Social Change Model of Leadership, that is, in the individual value of “Consciousness of Self.” Leaders need to be aware of their emotions, attitudes, values, and beliefs, as well as how these things affect and motivate them. They also need to be aware of their behaviors and how they are perceived by other group members, as well as third party observers. Another source which deals with the concept of awareness is the book “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman. Goleman argues that a leader’s ability to be emotionally intelligent and aware at all times of what is doing sis essential to effective leadership.

Remember the Titans

Responsibility is another key theme of leadership which cuts across all of the models we have studied. In groups, the leader is the one who wields the most power, and therefore, the greatest responsibility, as well. Not only do they have responsibilities to the group, though, but they have responsibilities to themselves, to each individual member of the group, and to the community at large. A person’s ability to deal with this responsibility often determines whether they will be a good leader or not. The value of responsibility when it comes to effective leadership can be seen in every practice of “The Five Exemplary Practices of Leadership,” but perhaps most specifically in “Setting the Example.” As a leader, one is looked up to by all the members of a respective group. Therefore, the greatest responsibility a leader has is to inspire the members of his or her group, because the members will follow the example set by the leader, who is often the one who determines the tone of the whole group. If a leader is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the group’s goal, and if that leader behaves with ethical practices, most of the time, the rest of the group will follow this example. Conversely, if a leader is unmotivated and uses corrupt practices, the rest of group might also quickly follow suit. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that a leader be aware of his/her responsibility and use it justly.

Responsibility comes into play in the Social Change Model of Leadership, specifically in the values of “Collaboration” and “Citizenship.” First, in collaboration, leaders need to know how to share their responsibility and authority with others whom they are working with. This ability allows the leader to delegate jobs to his or her constituents, allows for other members of the group to share in the leader’s power, and shows that the leader is a team player who values each individual in the group. A different aspect of responsibility is highlighted in the second value drawn from the Social Change Model of Leadership. “Citizenship” means that leaders are responsible for keeping their group ethically connected to the community. In accordance with this, leaders are also responsible for recognizing that all members of a group are vital to its success since everyone is is interdependent.

FedEx Commercial

We see standards in two different ways. First, we see them as norms. So within a group there may be behavioral standards, linguistic standards, and even standards of thought. Groups set standards so members know what is expected of them, what is appropriate, etc. Individuals should hold themselves, as well as others, accountable for these standards. Secondly, we see standards as values in the sense that one can hold themselves to high standards in the same way one can live up to personal or organizational values. If there is a standard within a group that involves acting honestly and with integrity, one could also say that two values of the group are honesty and integrity. The concept of standards relates to three of the leadership models we have looked at. First, it relates to the Social Change Model’s group value known as "Common Purpose." Similar to how if a group does not share a common purpose (i.e., if members are not members of the group for similar reasons and if they have nothing in common), if a group does not share standards, the group will be less successful and will most likely be divided. Secondly, the concept of standards also relates to The 5 Exemplary Practices of Leadership’s commitment #1 and #2 under modeling the way, which are "Clarifying Values"and "Setting the Example." As I alluded to previously, clarifying one’s personal values, as well as the values of a group, is just as important as clarifying the standards a group feels are appropriate to hold its members to. And as far as setting the example goes, we all know how important it is for leaders to be the first to behave, speak, think, etc. in line with the standards of a group. Once the leaders do these things, others in the group are more willing and likely to follow. And finally, the concept of standards relates to the Relational Leadership Model’s concept of "Ethics." Acting ethically and morally directly translates to acting in such a way that is aligned with the standards a group has set. If a leader were to act unethically, the chances are she has failed to hold herself to a norm the group finds important or has acted contrary to a value the group stands for.

Malcom X

How to put the STARS Model into practice...

As an example of emergent leadership, the STARS Model should not be seen as an exhaustive list of ‘what to do to become a leader.’ Instead, it should be seen as a helpful tool leaders can use to remind themselves about a few important aspects of leading others, as well as to remind themselves about why they love doing what they do! For example, even if you did not read the description of any the five concepts we have discussed, all you would have to do is look at the STARS Model diagram and you would have five important words that would spark your thoughts and hopefully lead you to reflect on a leadership experience you have had. One of the advantages of emergent leadership models is that they ALL have a lot in common (as we have demonstrated by describing how the concepts in our STARS Model relate to the concepts in the other models we have looked at over the course of the semester). Service, Trust, Awareness, Responsibility, and Standards are in many ways synonymous with the social change model’s “7 C’s,” The Leadership Challenge’s 5 Exemplary Practices of Leadership, the Relational Leadership Model’s five governing principles, and Servant Leadership’s ten principles.

Now, many of you have most likely been on a leadership retreat which utilizes curriculum based on a book. Well, this is our idea for our model. We think a leadership retreat based on the STARS Model could be a huge success. One idea we had was for each concept, there could be a student ‘witness’ who would be willing to share a personal story related to that concept, and this would in turn spark further discussion of the concept and bring about others relating to it. An activity that could take place on a retreat centered around the STARS Model would be to have each individual stand up and talk about a “STAR” who has positively impacted his or her life and how this “STAR” has done so.

Works Cited:
"Complex Adaptive Systems." MindManager X5. 14 April 2008. 6 July 2004. <>.
Spears, Larry C. Practicing Servant Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery, and Forgiveness. "The Understanding and Practice of Servant-Leadership." p. 9-24.
Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Goleman, Daniel, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee. Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Harvard Business School Press, 2002.