Faculty Mentor

David Foster


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Very little research has examined factors associated with leader effectiveness within the college student population. Consequently, this study sought to identify predictors of leader effectiveness in college students. Data were collected from 154 students from a mid-sized college in the Pacific Northwest who were enrolled in one of nine different sections of a Psychology of Leadership course offered between the spring term of 2017 and the winter term of 2020. Students completed self-assessment questionnaires assessing both leader characteristics such as traits, strengths, values, philosophy as well as leader behaviors such as leadership style and conflict management. Some self-assessments were made both at the beginning and the end of the course to allow students to reflect on changes in their leadership in their final paper. Students evaluated their teammates effectiveness as a leader based on their performance on a community service project. The results showed that, with the exception of leadership philosophy, no self-reported leader characteristics were associated with leader effectiveness. In contrast, the trait of confidence as rated by others was positively correlated with leader effectiveness. Furthermore, variability in others ratings of confidence, persistence, dependability, and conscientiousness were all negatively correlated with leader effectiveness. Finally, leader behaviors related to developing an appropriate team climate, accomplishing the team’s task, and developing and maintaining good relations among team members were all positively correlated with leader effectiveness. Based on the findings, college students should focus their energies on becoming more proficient at key leadership behaviors as well as reducing stress to minimize variability in their behavior.




Psychological Sciences


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