Denison's Leadership & Involvement Center has adopted the following definition of leadership, crafted by the Higher Education Research Institute, as its foundation for programming:
"A leader is not necessarily someone who holds some formal position of leadership or who is perceived as a leader by others. Rather, a leader is one who is able to affect positive change for the betterment of others, the community, and society. All people, in other words, are potential leaders. Moreover, the process of leadership cannot be described simply in terms of the behavior of an individual; rather leadership involves collaborative relationships that lead to collective action grounded in the shared values of people who work together to affect positive change."