Character-Based Leadership

Become the leader you were meant to be

The 9 Virtues Leadership Institute empowers current and aspiring leaders to grow and develop professionally and personally.

Everyone has the inborn capacity to lead—it’s just a matter of unlocking that potential.

About the 9 virtues

The 9 Virtues Leadership Institute helps you build on your natural ability and nurture your leadership habits through specific behaviors.

Learn how to practice the 9 virtues of exceptional leaders, with guidance from leadership expert Dr. Karl Haden and award-winning educator, Prof. Rob Jenkins. Below are some of the popular options for virtues-based development. Please keep in mind that the Institute can customize a program especially for your organization. 

60-90 Minute Keynote

An AAL consultant will come to your site and deliver a 60-90 minute presentation on the 9 Virtues and related concepts from the book. This option is ideal for organizations that wish to incorporate virtues-based leadership development into a larger program, such as a staff development day. Books can be purchased at a discount for attendees prior to the event, or they can be made available for individuals to purchase on the day of the program.

Half-Day Leadership Program

The half-day program is designed to introduce organizational leaders to the fundamentals of virtues-based leadership. It will cover the 9 Virtues, the importance of lifelong learning, and the leader’s role in promoting a virtuous organizational culture. This program is designed for upper-level managers, to introduce them to concepts they may wish AAL to share with the rest of their organization later, in a full-day training. Attendees will receive a copy of the book on the day of the session.

Full-Day Executive Program

This program is designed to be highly interactive, with group and individual activities aimed at helping attendees understand and internalize the Virtues. As part of the full-day program, each attendee will receive a copy of The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders well before the program is scheduled. This program will include the principles of virtues-based leadership; the relationship between ethics, values, and the 9 Virtues; the importance of lifelong learning; and the role of leaders in promoting a virtues-based organizational culture. 

Meet The Experts

N. Karl Haden, Ph.D.

N. Karl Haden, Ph.D. is the founder of The 9 Virtues Leadership Institute and co-author of the book The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders. Dr. Haden has worked with business, health care, nonprofit, and higher education executives and organizations for over 25 years. His areas of expertise include leadership development, team building, and organizational strategy. An experienced entrepreneur, educator, and businessman, he is also the founder and president of AAL, a consulting and professional development firm located in Atlanta. Dr. Haden’s formal education is in business management, religious studies, the humanities, and philosophy—studies to which he credits many of his perspectives on leadership. He has authored numerous articles and monographs in leadership and policy and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences.

Rob Jenkins

Rob Jenkins has spent more than 35 years in higher education as a faculty member, department chair, academic dean, and program director. A frequent contributor to The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications, Rob is also the author of six books, including The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders and 31 Days with the Virtues (both with Karl Haden), Welcome to My Classroom, and his latest, Think Better, Write Better. Rob has given hundreds of lectures, presentations, and workshops around the country, working mostly in the education and non-profit sectors but also with a number of corporate clients. He has been a Senior Fellow at AAL since 2009. 

Our Books

The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leadership

Effective leaders are not simply people who know a lot about good leadership; they are people who practice it every day. This book enables you to do just that, building on your natural ability and nurturing your leadership habits through specific behaviors.

31 Days With The Virtues

The virtues of exceptional leaders are habits; and like the habits of a virtuoso, they result from deliberate practice. 31 Days With The Virtues offers daily reflections, each ending with a suggestion for practicing the relevant virtue. Whether you use our idea or think of another, the goal is always action.

Discussion Guide

In keeping with our commitment to lifelong learning as a key ingredient of virtue-based leadership, we invite organizations to read, study, and discuss The 9 Virtues together. The purpose of this Discussion Guide is to provide a framework for those conversations. Individuals may also find the guide helpful in their own quest to internalize and develop the virtues.


The value of leadership in all realms of civilized society is becoming ever more critical. Haden and Jenkins will make you rethink the essentials of being a leader. Their book guides you on a journey of self-discovery as you learn to practice each of the 9 Virtues.

Richard W. Valachovic, DMD, MPH
President Emeritus of the American Dental Education Association

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Articles and Papers

The Character of a Profession: The Next 100 Years

In this Journal of the American College of Dentists article, Dr. N. Karl Haden, President of AAL, discusses the concept of character to describe the dental profession and how ACD can pass the virtue of wisdom to the future generation.

The Virtue of Leadership

In the Journal of Dental Education, Dr. N. Karl Haden examines the virtue of leadership in the early tenure of an association’s leader, and explores two virtues that are necessary for virtuous leadership—practical wisdom and justice.

Justice, the Outward-Looking Virtue

This white paper discusses how leaders can use the virtue of justice to become better leaders.

Persevere or

This white paper discusses what it means to pivot, as opposed to giving up on your plans.


Audio Files & Podcasts

We Help Organizations Lead The Way Forward in Health & Higher Education

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The AAL Story


The Academy for Advancing Leadership (AAL) is a health and higher education consulting firm. We work with organizational leaders to achieve their goals through strategic planning and professional development. We have helped over 150 institutions and thousands of leaders advance in their fields. Unlike other firms, our clients engage directly with accomplished and seasoned experts to achieve objectives with agility.


Celebrating Almost Two Decades in Business

Launched in 2005, AAL is a collaborative of scholars, educational specialists, and consultants providing services that help leaders in businesses, nonprofits, and academia pursue excellence, the application of knowledge, the discovery of ideas, and the quest of lifelong learning. The AAL team strives to build long-term relationships based on superior service, mutual trust, and intellectual inspiration. We focus on professional development, consulting services, and the application of assessment technologies and informatics to solve our clients' challenges. We hope to get to know you and assist with your personal, professional, and organizational growth.

N. Karl Haden, PhD

President of AAL


Advancing health and higher education.


AAL builds and strengthens your unique value through results-driven consulting and professional development.

Core Values

Scholarship through continuous learning, discovery, dissemination of knowledge, and interprofessional collaboration.

Innovation through risk-taking and disruption of the status quo.

Integrity through doing the right things for the right reasons.

Excellence through superior quality, client satisfaction, and the assessment of outcomes.

Philanthropy through volunteerism and financial contribution.

Success Stories

“I've taken quite a few leadership courses and seminars; none come close to the material involved and coordination AAL. Sprinkle a little genuine interest in seeing us succeed and well intentions and you have the best leadership mentors PERIOD.”

Dr. Khaled Hussein

BronxCare Health System

“The program was very valuable in the way that it gave us some real tools, some real opportunities and ways to evaluate ourselves and our own approaches to leadership and then gave us an opportunity of how to apply that to interprofessional education. I think that was the best … the applicability of the tools that were provided to us and how we can utilize those were just amazing. It was very valuable and an opportunity to evaluate yourself with the tools that they provided to give an introspective look into your own leadership style and what other people thought of your leadership, and that was very powerful.”

Dr. Kevin Brueilly

Wingate University Levine College of Health Sciences

“I think the program was excellent. There were many excellent sessions. They were very stimulating. They kept us moving, very thought provoking. I thought the program overall was well designed, and as I said very thought provoking. For the inaugural program, it was well put together. You could see the passion in the instructors, who were very well versed in the topics that they talked about. I’m really pleased to be a part of this, and as a social worker, I really got a great sense of how interprofessional education can be very instrumental in terms of social workers working in healthcare settings. I think this is the wave of the future, and this program will gain traction in the future. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Dr. Martell Teasley

University of Utah College of Social Work

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