What is a disposition?

A disposition is an enduring character trait that is learned throughout life. Together, dispositions shape perceptions and motivate behaviour. There are four dispositions in the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework:​​

  1. open-mindedness  ​ 
  2. interpersonal courage​ 
  3. empathy​ 
  4. perseverance.​ 

Four dispositions in the Academy Leadership Excellence Framework infographic


Resources for schools

Gold computer screen with play button icon by the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership  Watch the video below to learn more about the four dispositions. 

Listen to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Viviane Robinson explain how the four dispositions in the Framework are proven to make a difference to the quality of school leadership.

Gold puzzle pieces connecting icon by the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership.  Reflect on your understanding of the dispositions. ​

  • How do you keep up to date with educational research and professional reading?
  • When leading school improvement, or implementing changes in your school, how does this knowledge inform your decisions? How do you communicate the rationale to your community – staff, students, parents?
  • I ensure that staff in my school have access to the relevant and up to date knowledge they need to lead key areas across the school.
  • How do you know that leaders of learning areas in your school have the relevant knowledge of the subject content or pedagogy to effectively lead the work? How do you support them to do so?
  • Do you find that it is harder to empathise with some groups of students than others? What makes it difficult for you to show empathy with some groups?
  • How do you balance being empathic with teachers who are having difficulty, while at the same time being firm about the need for improvement?
  • How do you encourage colleagues to set aside prejudgments and be more empathic with those who frustrate them?
  • Are there situations where you have shown excessive empathy? What happened as a result?
  • Do you consider yourself a courageous leader? What makes you think so? What happened as a result of your courage?
  • What conditions enabled you to be courageous in one situation but not in the another?
  • What supports/ tools could help you be more courageous?
  • What supports/tools could you use to lead others be more courageous?
  • Think of improvement efforts you have led. Did you and your team persevere until you reached the goal, or did you give up, switch to a different goal and get distracted?
  • What encourages you to persevere in your professional role with something that is difficult, and what leads you to give up, or give it away?
  • Think about a moment of ‘failure’ in your career, what impact did it have on you in the short term, then the long term. If you had the same situation arise, what would you do differently?

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Last updated 18 October 2023