Leadership Development Working Group/Content/Leadership Definition (Initial Draft)

This initial draft definition was published by the Leadership Development Working Group on September 15, 2022. The working group hosted a call for feedback to gather feedback about the draft. You can view the revised definition for the latest version.

Draft Definition




In the last three months, the Leadership Development Working Group drafted a definition of leadership representing its members’ diverse community experiences and perspectives. This definition was created through reflection, discussion, and sharing stories and examples from our different and diverse communities. We sought to draft a unified definition that represents various contexts and cultures and is unique to the Wikimedia movement. We now present this working definition to community members across the Wikimedia movement to hear their feedback to compile a genuinely inclusive definition.

Broad overarching definition


Leadership is a complex and nuanced phenomenon that manifests differently based on linguistic, socio-cultural and community contexts.

Leadership can often be seen in skills and qualities of an individual, however, it is not tied to a specific position or role. Leadership can also be demonstrated in the way a group of people work together, take decisions, distribute responsibility and strive towards a common goal or vision.

Leadership can be understood as the ability to guide, inspire, build autonomy, encourage and motivate a group of people towards a shared future.

Three categories through which leadership could be further qualified

  1. Actions of good leaders
    • Facilitating the setting of a shared vision through careful thought, discussion and decision making.
    • Guiding and supporting collaborative decision making for the community to create shared strategies to achieve their vision.
    • Creating and sustaining a supportive environment for community members to bring forth creative ideas and new ways of doing things.
    • Generating and retaining trust within the community through transparency, inclusivity and autonomy of the group.
    • Inspiring, encouraging and motivating community members through positive influencing to experiment and take reasonably justified risks.
    • Facilitating the elimination of any obstructions ensuring they do not become a barrier to others.
    • Seeking to understand the skills and interests of other community members to best support the use of their strengths creating an atmosphere of self-motivation.
  2. Qualities of good leaders
    • Resilience: Ability to push through difficulties and challenges by reassessing strategies, changing methods and/or slowing down.
    • Steady growth: Willingness to try new ways of doing things and learn from mistakes made along the way.
    • Integrity: Adherence to agreed upon values and norms.
    • Focus: Balancing the needs of the community with long-term and short-term goals, integrating consensus on the approach to achieve these goals.
    • Courage: Willingness to take calculated risks, not being afraid of making mistakes. Shielding community members who are in the process of learning from their failures. Promoting other people’s success.
    • Empathy: Ability to sense emotions, needs and desires of others and to (re-)act sensibly.
    • Accountability: Accepting responsibility for a set of duties; being mindful of time, place and persons related to those duties.
  3. Outcomes achieved because of good leadership
    • People release creative ideas.
    • People develop and achieve a common goal.
    • People keep an open spirit and stay curious.
    • Presence of a common feeling that people are valued and listened to.