Center for Leadership and Ethics

Fostering Strong Leadership Skills and Character Development


2023-24 Adapting to Complex Situations Banner collage of cadets and speakers

VMI's Center for Leadership and Ethics is dedicated to educating, engaging, and inspiring cadets, faculty, and staff in leadership and character development. Our mission is to share the insights and knowledge gleaned from our programs with a wider national audience. We offer programming that falls into three broad categories: Cadet Programs, Leader Development, and Strategic Engagement. These categories provide opportunities to develop new skills and enhance leadership learning, empowering leaders to think critically, solve problems, and make ethical decisions.

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Cadet Programs

Cadet Programs are designed to engage and inspire members of the Corps of Cadets. We offer several programs that incorporate experiential learning, critical thinking, and opportunities to engage with nationally-known speakers and subject-matter experts.

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Leader Development

Our Center conducts progressive professional development programs and workshops to enhance interpersonal, teaching, and leadership skills. One of our most notable programs is VMI’s required core curriculum leadership course - LEAD 344, which is now led by Col. David R. Gray, Ph. D.

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Strategic Engagement

Our Strategic Engagement programs involve outside professionals, subject-matter experts, and leading practitioners as speakers during one of VMI’s conferences or as part of one of our speaker series programs.


2023-24 Annual Leadership Theme: Adapting to Complex Situations

This year's annual theme, "Adapting to Complex Situations," will explore leaders' and followers' ability to adapt to the uncertainty, unexpectedness, and volatility of complex situations. 

Our goal is to observe, distinguish, and interpret the differences between technical and adaptive challenges and to understand how to intervene effectively in crisis situations by applying adaptive leadership techniques. We'll focus on developing emotional intelligence, effective communication skills, and collaborative decision-making.

Our strategic outreach efforts during conferences, speaker events, the VMI Leader Journey podcast, and on social media with the hashtag #adaptiveleadership. The Annual Leadership and Ethics Conference, to be held Oct. 30-31, will highlight the challenges of adapting to personal and organizational crises with courage and integrity. These programs reinforce VMI’s Unifying Action Plan five outcomes with content that educates, engages, and inspires!

Follow us online for this content and other programming announcements on our FacebookInstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn accounts.

Past Leadership Themes:

  • The Courage of Convictions
  • Citizen Leaders
  • Leadership in a Fractured World
  • Courageous Leadership


The VMI Leader Journey Pamphlet

The “VMI Leader Journey” pamphlet describes how the Institute turns leadership theory into practice through a systematic approach over a four-year cadetship experience of whole-person development. it provides an easy-to-share reference guide of VMI's academic, athletic, and military environment programming, along with the single-sanction Honor system as its seat of character development.  

The pamphlet was developed over four years and 15 drafts with input from VMI administration, faculty, staff, cadets, board of visitors, and alumni. It includes an overview of the Institute's mission and philosophy, as well as a discussion of the theoretical basis for training cadets into adaptable, authentic leaders. Finally, the pamphlet discusses the specifics of the integration of curricular, co-curricular, and experiential learning opportunities essential for instilling character and core leader behaviors.

Links to Resources

VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders