Content Validation of the Leadership Framework

The content validation process was designed to enhance the UW-Madison Leadership Framework’s credibility, position for its widespread application and advance the discipline of leadership education. The widely applied Leadership Framework, integrated into more than 75 trainings, workshops, or courses, was last revised in 2014. Consistent with our context as a Public Land Grant university and Research I institution, a rigorous review of the Framework content provides a pathway for continued integration of the model and increased impact of leadership education.

From 2019-2021, two stages of the content validation process were conducted in partnership with external and internal stakeholders. Stage 1 focused on the validation of the Framework’s Principles, Values, and Competencies.  Stage 2 focused on the validation of the Framework’s Outcomes.

The content validation process was developed and implemented in two stages. Stage 1 and Stage 2 content validation processes included four main steps:

The Stage 1 content validation process was designed by the UW-Madison Framework Validation Team in consultation with an expert leadership consultant. A Project Lead facilitated the process and member engagement. Three expert reviewers served as leadership subject matter experts who validated the Leadership Framework principles, values, and competencies. Expert reviewers independently completed an online survey to provide feedback. The Stage 1 UW-Madison Vetting Team of internal stakeholders evaluated expert feedback and recommended revisions.

The Stage 2 content validation process was designed by the UW-Madison Framework Validation Team in consultation with an expert leadership consultant. A Project Lead facilitated the process and member engagement. Five expert reviewers were selected as subject matter experts in leadership education and development. Expert reviewers independently validated the Leadership Framework outcomes. Expert reviewers provided feedback independently using a content review tool. The Stage 2 UW-Madison Vetting Team evaluated expert feedback and recommended revisions.


The UW-Madison Framework Validation Project was a collaborative effort, with external leadership content experts and internal UW leadership framework practitioners.  Team roles included:

  • External Process Consultants with leadership education expertise informed the content validation process and provided insights and direction as the process unfolded.
  • Leadership Industry Expert Reviewers are subject matter experts in Leadership Development and Leadership Education who validated Framework concepts. These leadership experts are leadership educators, scholars, and practitioners primarily outside UW-Madison.
  • UW-Madison Vetting Team comprised of students, staff, and faculty partners with expertise in developing, stewarding, and implementing the Framework, evaluated expert reviewer feedback and recommended revisions.
  • UW-Madison Validation Process Team facilitated the project.


Expert reviewers were asked to align Framework content with existing and emerging leadership research and literature while ensuring:

  • Clarity: coherent and accessible.
  • Culturally Responsivity: Centers and celebrates the perspectives and experiences of all people, especially those with marginalized social identities.
  • Portability: Useful and applicable across a variety of contexts and settings.


The research was conducted, documented, and conclusions were reached through a collaborative process. Expert reviewers provided feedback on Leadership Framework concepts.  The internal UW-Madison Vetting Team proposed Framework revisions based on the feedback and specific applicability to the UW context.  The External Consultant and Expert Reviewers endorsed proposed changes.

Stage 1 (2019-2020): Content review of principles, values, and competencies

  • 3 Revised Principles
  • 5 New Competency Descriptions
  • 4 Refined Competency Titles

Stage 2 (2020-2021): Content review of outcomes

  • 71 Revised Outcomes
  • 8 Outcomes Removed
  • 3 Outcomes Moved
  • 1 New Principle Added

Next Steps

Unveil enhanced Framework and support its implementation.

Present at academic conferences and publish research.

Develop a culturally responsive on-going validation cycle.

Explore and integrate developmental complexity into the model.

Connect Framework with Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) to support further assessment.


CfLI Director Mark Kueppers presents to a full house at the 2022 ACUI Annual conference.