Can passion lead to leadership? Exploring how to be a leader.

Leadership is often presented as a skill to aspire to have or actions to do from even before university all the way to your future career. However, the traditional idea of leadership also often presents itself as an elite, elusive skill that only certain people can achieve. In that case, how do you become a leader? What makes a leader? What would the process of becoming a leader look like?

Let’s dig in and find out.

It all begins with a passion

Do you have a passion? It might be about the environment or how the cost of living crisis is impacting those around you. It could be that you’re really passionate about a hobby or a sport. It could be that you want to know everything possible about your chosen degree. If you are passionate about something and have the drive to change your community for the better, whatever that better looks like for you, you already have the potential to be a leader. 

Me? A leader?

When people think of a leader, it’s usually something along the lines of a CEO, or a politician, or a celebrity. You might be thinking of someone who inspired you to be who you are, such as a teacher. It’s very easy to put leaders, and the idea of leaders, on a pedestal and to convince yourself that it’s not for you without even trying. 

But absolutely everyone can be a leader. This isn’t to say that everyone can be a good leader, to motivate others and to harness potential. Everyone, however, has the potential. Including you. 

Why would having a passion make me a leader? 

“Leadership is far more than managing a team – it’s not a position but instead a process of delivering true public good in the decisions you make.” – York Leader attendee, 2022

The Social Change Model of Leadership Development tells us that leaders try to improve the groups and communities that we are a part of and to try to make a positive change. There are 3 lenses of social change that effective leadership takes place in: individual, group and society/community. Leaders are always asking themselves what they bring to the table as an individual, how they can collaborate effectively as a group, and what impact they want to have on their community. To make a positive change, you have to first know what you want to make an impact in, so passions are very important!

Rather than expecting leadership to be a show of dominance or being the “boss”, the social change model frames leadership as a collaborative process with those around you and yourself. By engaging with people and themselves on an individual, group and societal basis, a leader makes positive social change in whatever they are passionate about. By having the passion and drive to make a difference to the people around you, no matter where your passion lies, you have the potential to lead.

If you are interested in exploring this, whether you are confident you are a leader or not confident at all, York Leaders can help!

York Leaders 2023

York Leaders is an exciting opportunity for second (or middle) year undergraduates from all academic disciplines to gain exclusive access to an intensive training course.

You might not see yourself as a leader (yet), and you don’t have to have experience in a leadership role to apply. We’re looking for students who see the value of effective leadership, and can show us their enthusiasm and potential to become leaders who bring about positive change. 

York Leaders is much more than simply learning about leadership. This unique programme puts what you learn into practice through a group project and working with others on real-world issues to discover what leadership means to you.

York Leaders is a selective programme with only 90 places available and will run across Weeks 6 and 7 of Spring Term 2023. Applications are open now and will be open until 5pm GMT on Friday 2nd December 2022. Apply online.

Still unsure? Read the experiences of the York Leaders from last year’s programme below and how the programme impacted them:

“York Leaders is all about your potential to become a future leader. There is a real emphasis on community impact and upholding your group values, underpinned by academic material. You get the chance to develop core skills, whether that be effective communication, collaborative working or public speaking, consolidating this with formal recognition of your experiences. 

I learned that I’m far more creative than I thought, far more resilient and far more confident in conveying my passion for an idea. Whether you’re thinking about the York Award, or simply graduate employment, York Leaders is an interesting and unique experience to discuss in your future professional life.” – York Leader attendee, 2022

If you’re ready to take the next step, Apply to be a York Leader today!

If you’re in another year of study, or a postgraduate, we would encourage you to continue to explore the Social Change Model and discover what it means to you. There’s lots of ways to engage in leadership, from being involved with societies that share your passions, to volunteering opportunities, to student department representation, to internships, and more! Find out your passions and let that motivate and guide your next steps.

If you have any questions about York Leaders or the application process, visit the webpages or contact the team at