MOVING BEYOND COMMON PARADIGMS OF LEADERSHIP: UNDERSTANDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF ADVANCED LEADERSHIP IDENTITY
Rocco, Melissa Lynn
Griffin, Kimberly A
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In both formal and informal ways, leadership is woven into the fabric of higher education. Developing students into leaders who meet the demands of an increasingly interconnected world is a message found in institutional mission statements, program objectives, and learning outcomes. As such, scholars highlight the need for using relational, process-oriented, and socially responsible leadership paradigms with college students (Dugan, Kodama, Correia, & Associates 2013; Dugan & Komives, 2010; Higher Education Research Institute, 1996). Yet, despite educator efforts, most college students maintain approaches consistent with leader-centric and hierarchical paradigms (Haber, 2012). In order to design interventions that broaden students’ leadership perspectives, educators must better understand how students develop their understanding and practice of leadership. The Leadership Identity Development (LID) Model (Komives, Longerbeam, Owen, Mainella, & Osteen, 2005, 2006) is a stage-based model demonstrating development toward interdependent notions of leadership, or, how a person moves beyond leader-centric paradigms toward more relational and process-oriented approaches. Though, research on what prompts development toward later stages of the model is limited, indicating the need for further exploration. The purpose of this study was to understand the factors and forces in educational experiences that contribute to advanced stages of leadership identity development. Case study methods were used to explore the experiences of seven participants with leadership identities consistent with the later stages of the LID Model. Participant narratives indicate leadership learning immersion programs, peer facilitation experiences, and academic courses as transformational. Within these experiences, experiential learning, developmental sequencing, and learning about relational leadership broadened participants’ leadership perspectives and practices. Participants with consistent engagement in leadership learning from adolescence through college developed advanced leadership identities earlier than other participants, and earlier than those in previous studies. In addition, aspects of social identity development influenced participants’ development toward later stages of the LID Model. Findings of this study suggest educators should focus on the value and timing of leadership learning in educational interventions throughout the lifespan, as well as the opportunity for students to cultivate leadership learning in others. Educators should also give further consideration to the interaction between social identity development and leadership identity development.