Learning Leadership in Italy

Learning Leadership in Italy Author: Katelyn Hedrick Throughout my time at George Mason University, I have developed a love for the study of leadership. When I heard of the opportunity to study leadership in Italy under Dr. Zaccaro and Dr. McCarron I immediately sought out additional information. This was the perfect opportunity for me to travel around Italy with professors who could assist me with translating, developing cultural capital, and understanding the Italian context. I cannot emphasize how glad I am that I was able to take this course as it was so much more than great food, great company and of course GREAT gelato! The class was made up of undergraduate students from various years, as well as graduate students from different programs. Every student attended class each day to discuss various theories and concepts of leadership. The graduate students attended additional classes to go over more advanced material and ensure that we were developing a deep understanding of the important leadership theories. Our classes were held in a different beautiful location each day including the steps of Santa Croce, the Dodge’s Palace café, and our hotel rooftop terrace which provided a 360-degree view of Rome.

During our time in Italy we traveled to Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome. I was able to go on a gondola ride in Venice, explored the Uffizi in Florence, and threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain. We had the opportunity to eat at some amazing restaurants and enjoy gelato every day. We explored each city together and separately in smaller groups based on our interests. During this free time, we were encouraged to look for examples of leadership behaviors and be prepared to discuss them in relation to the leadership theories and concepts presented in the various lectures. These discussions allowed for cultural comparisons between the Italian and American context and served as a real-life example of the importance of understanding the leadership context. The examples that we discussed within the class, along with my personal observations, have truly helped me understand several important leadership concepts including followership models and several issues surrounding gender and leadership.


A large part of the reason I enjoyed this trip so much was the impromptu discussions that occurred among all of the students. For instance, we discussed leadership over meals, while we were exploring Italy and even when we were on the bus. These discussions were not only enjoyable but they really furthered my education. Each student assisted one another in understanding concepts from the readings along with simply discussing what we thought was interesting. Dr. Zaccaro and Dr. McCarron consistently joined in on these conversations and were available to discuss leadership at any time as well. This was truly a unique aspect of this trip, as everyone was always available to discuss concepts that we found confusing, interesting or exciting. The constant focus on leadership truly helped me hone in on important aspects in a way I have not experienced before. Furthermore, when we arrived back in the USA, the study of leadership did not end. We could reach out to other students and the professors throughout the summer while we were completing assignments and delving deeper into the concepts.

A unique aspect of this course was the various backgrounds of all of the students within the class. In several of my graduate school classes we have discussed the importance of taking a multidisciplinary approach to research. This course served as one of my first real-life examples of how much this can help everyone grow. During our class discussions, each graduate student brought up points that I never considered and approached the concepts from a different perspective. I truly enjoyed having discussions about how we were all approaching the concepts and I believe that I came to a greater understanding of the different leadership theories as a result.

I have to thank Dr. Zaccaro and Dr. McCarron for an amazing experience. Their constant planning and availability to discuss leadership concepts at any given time ensured that every student had an amazing and instructional experience. I cannot emphasize enough how much fun it was exploring Italy with this group of people.