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Leader Identity Development: Today and Tomorrow

This course is fully booked (no waiting list)

The first part will commence with the discussion of the theoretical and historical foundations of leadership so that participants develop a common understanding on the different meanings of leadership, theoretical schools and approaches. The rest of the first week will introduce participants to the notions of identity and leader identity. The meanings, content, characteristics and importance of leader identity will be presented and discussed. This week will conclude with the presentation and discussion of different approaches to leader identity development, in other words it will try to answer the question “how we come to see ourselves as leaders?”. 

The second week will build on the knowledge acquired during the first week and will involve a more practical approach to leader identity development following two fundamental theoretical schools of thought: role identity theory and social identity theory. According to role identity theory, leader identity development is based on the interactions of the leader with their followers. Leaders claim leader identity in these interactions and leader identity is developed (or not) based on the grading (or no grading) feedback they receive from their followers (DeRue and Ashford, 2010). Students will learn how to act as leaders and exercise leadership claiming behaviours especially without formally assigned the leadership role. More importantly, participants will acquire knowledge on how to use the mindset theory in order to more productively approach and process the feedback they receive from their followers (especially the negative feedback) and use it for developing their leader identity. The second part of the second week will be devoted to social identity theory and participants will learn how to recognise and use group identity dynamics in the development of their leader identity. Following the 5R framework (Haslam et al., 202), participants will be guided on a journey through Readying, Reflecting, Representing, Realizing, and Reporting social identity.  

The final week of the course will be devoted to the future of leadership within the context created by current technological advancements in work related technologies. Special attention will be paid to the role of Generative Artificial Intelligence, and how it creates a new context which provide novel meanings to long established constructs related to working, managing and leading. On the basis of the content covered during the previous two weeks, participants will be guided to identify and use environmental prompts in order to develop not only their current but also their “future proof” leader identity.

Exam info and full course description

Exam info and full course description can be found in the course catalogue.

Admission Requirements

Course specific:
A Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or Business Economics or an equivalent degree.  

Participants are expected to have been exposed to fundamental theoretical issues in management (organizational behaviour) and leadership. In-depth knowledge is not required as the beginning of the course will set a common theoretical ground in management and leadership for all participants.


Exchange Students: nomination from your home university

Freemovers: documentation for English Language proficiency

You can read more about the admission here.


Aristotelis Alexopoulos 


Academic profile

Aristotelis Alexopoulos is a PhD student at Durham University Business School (DUBS) and member of the International Center for Leadership and Followership (ICLF) at DUBS. He has more than 20 years of professional experience in executive roles in the fields of project management and human resources management. His main research interests lie in the fields of leadership, leader identity, leader identity development and mindsets.