The recent nationwide study, Physical Therapist Education for the 21st Century (PTE-21): Innovation and Excellence in Physical Therapist Academic and Clinical Education, identified that both strong central leadership and widespread distributive leadership, were visible components of excellence in physical therapist education programs. Leadership styles and personalities were less important than how leaders worked with and through the members of their team, took risks, and engaged in systems thinking to navigate the messiness in current environments. In physical therapy, leadership is an area that needs continued exploration across academic and clinical settings that can provide a foundation for professional education and development. In this session, the speakers will discuss the connection between key elements of leadership that facilitate a culture of excellence in academic and clinical settings; identify current trends in higher education and health care systems that need urgent attention; and examine and discuss 2 education research projects focused on leadership and a third case examining leadership theory and concepts applied to practice. An expert will provide both perspective and commentary as part of a continuing effort to advance the careers of our next generation of educational researchers.