The first large-scale research on leadership in Ukraine, the design of new educational programs, the development of leadership in the military, management, and medicine are important (but far from all) accomplishments of the Center for Leadership of the Ukrainian Catholic University. Recently the center summed up three years of strategic cooperation with the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership of the Ivey Business School (Canada). And so the center’s team and professors receive from Canadian colleagues expert support in conducting research and developing educational programs for managers: entrepreneurs, medical workers, the military, teachers, and teenagers. In the following report, we will recount what we’ve achieved in three years of work and how this influences the development of leadership in Ukraine.

The UCU Center for Leadership is a center for scholarship and methodology. The goal is to develop a new generation of leaders through education, research, and partnership with global institutions. The foundation of the work is conducting the center’s research with the methodology Leadership based on character, developed by professors of the Ivey Business School after the world economic crisis of 2008. According to this methodology, in order to be a good leader, not only competencies are necessary but also character and sacrifice. Character includes 11 virtues which are key when making decisions. The virtues are: transcendence, drive, collaboration, humanity, humility, integrity, temperance, accountability, justice, courage, and judgment.

Andriy Rozhdestvensky at an open lecture for students of Kherson National Technical University

The UCU Center for Leadership has cooperated strategically with the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership of the Ivey Business School since 2016. The key areas of cooperation are: conducting joint research on the theme of leadership; developing and conducting educational programs; participation in international conferences; and publishing scholarly articles and other publications on the theme of leadership.

Research on leadership 

The center researches which virtues Ukrainian leaders already have, which they need to develop, how the presence or absence of certain virtues influences decision-making, what influence the character of a leader has on HR indicators, etc.

Research ‘Features of the character of a leader in organizations in Ukraine’

In 2021, the UCU Center for Leadership, with the support of professors of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, finished a large research project on the character of leaders in Ukraine. Over a four-year period, more than 2200 respondents were surveyed, from organizations in the private and public sectors throughout Ukraine. The structure of the character of Ukrainian leaders was analyzed, a correlation was determined between character features and HR-indicators, like psychological stability, involvement in decision-making, allegiance to the organization, etc.

The results of the research were recently presented in Kyiv, Lviv, and Ivano-Frankivsk.

Research ‘The role of the leader’s character in moderating between the extreme context of the organization’s activities and the subjective well-being of leaders’

Also in 2017, the UCU Center for Leadership took up yet another very important project – research on the development of leadership in the military. The center became noted for its expertise in leadership, for it is perhaps the only one in Ukraine which researches the phenomenon of leadership, in particular military, at a scholarly level. Cooperation with the Ivey Business School (Canada) encourages scholarly support and expertise in the development of research designs in Ukraine, and also gives access to world recognition.

Participants of the training program “Management and leadership in the military unit”

In 2019, the UCU Center for Leadership finished Ukrainian-Canadian research. Dr. Lucas Monzani of the Ivey Business School in Canada thus commented on the data received: “Our results demonstrated that a number of Ukrainian military leaders suffer from burn-out and a low level of well-being (compared to leaders in the business sector). This is a problem, inasmuch as many soldiers of the Ukrainian army can turn to their leaders not only for orders but also for inspiration. We know that tired or even burnt-out leaders can make decisions that are not the best. From this research, we learned that the development of character fosters the improvement of the well-being of leaders, from the military and also from the civil sectors. If military leaders make incorrect decisions, their army can suffer or even be lost. Something rather similar happens with business leaders. Thus, burnout negatively influences an organization’s financial results (for example, in the indicator EBITDA). In this way, any efforts regarding the improvement of well-being can help change its level in leaders. This can’t be left on the side. On the one hand, character development can be an instrument to avoid burnout. But, on the other hand, Ukrainian society can support soldiers through recognition and social awards for these important services that the army provides the nation. Similarly, business leaders can find a better sense of life if they support and get involved in projects of corporate social responsibility. In this way, business leaders will feel that they are contributing to a larger stakeholder group. Correspondingly, involvement in projects of corporate social responsibility can give business leaders a greater sense of meaning than only the protection of stockholders’ profits.” 

In total, more than 240 respondents participated in the research, including military leaders and business managers. The research was intended to compare the character of military and civil leaders. The results of the research were presented at an international conference “Western academy of management” in April 2021. Another report was heard at the Congress of European Associations (the largest congress in Europe for applied psychology – editor). The results received from the research are a solid foundation for designing educational programs at the UCU Business School.

In addition, from 2019 to 2021 the UCU Center for Leadership in cooperation with the Save Life charitable fund educated 540 officers as part of the program “Management and leadership in the military unit.” Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center organized online webinars viewed by more than 90 thousand people.

By the way, the UCU Center for Leadership, in cooperation with the Save Life fund, was up to and including in 2021 the main provider for teaching leadership for the military at a tactical level. The concept Leadership based on Character became a key focus in teaching Ukraine’s armed forces.


The publication of “Book of Reforms” was a large-scale project of the Center for Leadership together with the UCU Business School. The collection is composed of 12 case studies, each of which comprehensively describes a concrete case in the transformation process that happened in Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014.

Has the participation of volunteers met opposition from the old organizational culture in the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine? How has the management of Naftogaz conducted discussions with Russia’s Gazprom and filed a lawsuit in the Stockholm arbitration regarding the transit of gas? How did Ukraine’s largest bank end up under the control of the state and maintain stability? How to communicate changes when the issue is “re-booting” an entire health system in a country of many millions? These all are complicated and complex management situations that happened in Ukraine, situations which need to be analyzed, from which conclusions should be made, on the basis of which something should be learned.

Presentation of the “Book of Reforms” in Lviv

“Book of Reforms” was presented in Kyiv, Lviv, and Kherson, for some 270 people. The book itself was distributed among government administrators, in ministries, government agencies, etc. Three cases from the collection were translated into English and now students from the Ivey Business School and Stanford University are studying them. In particular, these were the cases “Ministry of Defense of Ukraine” and “Transparency International Ukraine,” which were written jointly with professors from the Ivey Business School. They have also been placed in the base of instructional materials of the Canadian business school, and professors use these cases for classes. The case “Public speaking,” developed in Ukraine by the Center for Leadership, the UCU Business School, and the Leadership Academy for Development, is included in the base of instructional materials at Stanford University.

Exclusive presentation of the Book of Reforms at LvBS Alumni Leadership Day with the participation of Yuriі Vitrenko

“I’m very glad that Ukrainian scholars and reformers took the challenge of describing their own cases and presenting them to be instruments for future instruction.” So Francis Fukuyama, Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, commented on the publication of “Book of Reforms.” The collection is useful for everyone interested in the processes of change in Ukraine but, above all, for professors and specialists in the field of education, who strive to diversify and improve the instructional process and include the case method in their own educational programs.

Research ‘Leadership among teenagers in Ukraine: The character of a leader and the team dynamic’

This research was conducted in the form of a four-week online course “Leadership workshop. School edition.” The workshop was very dynamic: The teenagers worked in teams to solve real business cases, heard lectures on leadership and teamwork, and defended their final projects.

UCU Center for Leadership

UCU students receive leadership awards from Ihnatowycz Family Fund for Young Leaders for their own projects

The goal of the research was to analyze how the development of leadership qualities among teenagers can influence their further career in five to ten years. Some 150 teenagers in the Lviv Region were surveyed as part of the research. The results demonstrated that:

  • The leader’s character influences the group dynamic;
  • Awareness of and work on the development of character helps to better deal with crisis or conflict situations in the team;
  • Understanding of leadership and the development of the character of a leader influences to a great extent the further development, group work, and success of teenagers.

Further information on the results is available in the Ukrainian language HERE.

Research that lasts

The goal of the research “The influence of the character of a leader on forming horizontal connections and networks” is to develop methodological instruments which can help leaders of non-governmental organizations form more stable networks with other non-governmental organizations and, in this way, to facilitate the creation of effective collective action.

The center’s team plans to analyze 1500 networks of non-governmental organizations and also the character of their leaders and partners. So far 138 networks have been analyzed.

Research on wellbeing at the workplace is a large project of the UCU Center for Leadership which intends to address many questions which in the Ukrainian context are not well-researched. In particular, the question of how the character of a leader influences the acceptance of the management decisions of his or her subordinates, the feeling of satisfaction in work, allegiance and devotion to the organization, etc. Anyone who is subordinate to a leader can take part in the research. More than 90 respondents have been surveyed; the final goal is 400. The plan is to finish the research in summer 2022.

On the basis of research conducted, the UCU Center for Leadership is creating educational programs, and it also offers management conclusions which it works on with universities in Ukraine and abroad. In addition, all the research regarding the study of the character of a leader can be used not only by managers but by staff of HR departments to develop appropriate policies, recommendations, and other internal documents.

“In the last three years, we have managed to engage in cooperation with a number of organizations of various levels,” explains Andriy Rozhdestvenskyi, Acting Director of the UCU Center for Leadership and a business consultant. “What motivates them to take part in our research above all is the desire to develop Ukrainian education and entrepreneurship. The results received are very valuable, because we are researching these themes in Ukraine for the first time, and companies can introduce many management conclusions in practice. In addition, a great bonus for organizations that accept our proposals is the possibility to take part in our educational programs at no charge.”  

Educational programs in leadership 

The UCU Center for Leadership works in various areas in the field of educational programs: the development of professors, the development of leaders at high and middle levels, and the development of teenagers.

Thus in 2019, the Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Fr. Pavlo Khud, and the Director of Operations of the UCU Business School, Khrystyna Dolna, became professors in the subject of leadership qualities. Fr. Pavlo Khud teaches a course for UCU students “Leadership based on character.” Khrystyna Dolan teaches a program for medical managers, “Management of a medical enterprise” and a course in leadership as part of the master’s programs MSc in Marketing Management and MSc in Innovations and Entrepreneurship.

UCU Center for Leadership

Master class for first-year students from the UCU Leadership Center

Every year, the UCU Center for Leadership offers during orientation sessions lectures in the development of leadership skills for students of the Ukrainian Catholic University. For example, the center’s Acting Director, Andriy Rozhdestvenskyi, gave a lecture on the leadership model and virtues at the basis of a leader’s character. In academic year 2020-2021, Sophia Opatska, UCU Vice-Rector for Strategic Development, gave a lecture on the theme of leadership.

How did the move online influence the center’s educational programs? 

With the quarantine and the move online, the question arose: What to teach and how? The UCU Center for Leadership also developed a unique scholarly methodology, “case-quest,” a series of online webinars on crisis management for entrepreneurs. The methodology was approved by CEEMAN, the Central and East European Management Development Association.

“With the start of the lockdown, organizations which had been ready to take part in research didn’t have time for us. Because of this, in five or six months we had to put this part of our work on pause. Instead, we started developing online courses,” explains Andriy Rozhdestvenskyi. “First, the project ‘A leader’s stability: The company’s path from survival to development.’ In a few weeks, this product began to gain some interest. In parallel, we concentrated on online webinars for the military and launched the course ‘Basic Leadership.’ In addition, we successfully conducted a number of webinars on the theme of leadership for entrepreneurs and the staff of universities and schools abroad: in the USA, Europe, and Kyrgyzstan.”

During the quarantine, the UCU Business School, with the support of the UCU Center for Leadership, launched the course “Basic Leadership,” which was developed on the basis of the research of the Ivey Business School and the book “Developing Leadership Character,” by Gerard Seijts, Jeffrey Gandz, and Mary M. Crossan. In spring 2022, the launch is planned for a new online course “Advanced Leadership,” which will deal with the connections between virtues in the character of a leader and the effectiveness of the team, the role of the leader in planning and implementing strategy, managing change, on leadership and HR practices for building an effective team, and also about the stability and personal life of the leader.

UCU Center for Leadership

Participants in the discussion “Leadership Character for Corporate Growth and Social Impact in a Disruptive World”, Davos 2020.

The UCU Center for Leadership, together with LvBS (the UCU Business School) and the participation of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, developed a program for top-level leaders, “Leading organizations in a new era.” It explains the most relevant questions: from the role of the leader as mentor and coach to how to work with people tired and irritated from a pandemic; from successful communication with stakeholders during an epidemic to regaining trust after an organizational crisis and determining key leadership indicators. The program’s mixed format – one professor in the classroom and another online, for example Gerard Seijts, Acting Director of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership – provides an opportunity to try new formats of education during a pandemic and effectively combine modern technologies and live interaction.

UCU Center for Leadership

Andriy Rozhdestvensky teaches at the program “Business as a Military Strategy”

With the coming of the pandemic, the work of the UCU Center for Leadership focuses on mental health, remote work, structure, and the popularization of corporate culture online. New themes and new challenges need a strengthened team and scholarly expertise, which the center is already intensively working on. “We are now in the active phase of setting goals for the next two to four years. Work is continuing on the development of designs for new research focusing on mental health, remote work, and intervention by leaders. The center also plans to development consulting work. Our activities would not be possible without the partnership and generous donations of Ian Ihnatowycz, President and CEO of the investment company First Generation Capital Inc. in Canada, and his wife, Marta Witer. We are very grateful to them for their support and strategic cooperation,” summed up Andriy Rozhdestvenskyi.