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KLI Research Update: Studying leadership development from age one to adulthood

Posted August 22, 2012 in KLI Research, News

Are you aware The Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI) has been involved in one-of-a-kind research studying individuals born 33 years ago to learn if early life experiences can impact future leaders? And we’re following CMC students through adulthood to see if college experiences can impact a person’s desire to lead?

As one of 10 research institutes at Claremont McKenna College, a measure of KLI’s success is the amount and impact of the research produced by both faculty and students. The past few years at KLI have proven to be very successful in this regard.

Below are just a few of the more recent research projects, research publications, and highlights of the more interesting and provocative findings:

The KLI-Fullerton Longitudinal Studies of Leadership Development.
This first-ever research project is a study of 130 individuals born in 1979 who have been assessed from one year of age up until the present time. At age 29, in conjunction with faculty members at Cal State Fullerton, KLI conducted a leadership assessment. This longitudinal design allows the study of how early life experiences, events, and skills and traits impact later development as leaders.

In 2011, a special issue of The Leadership Quarterly, the top research journal for leadership studies, contained four articles from the KLI-Fullerton research program. In these studies, it was found that:

  • The earliest roots of adult leadership began in the toddler years; more “explorative” and sociable toddlers were more likely to become leaders in their adult years.
  • Children with high levels of academic intrinsic motivation were more motivated to take on leadership positions as adults.
  • Parents who provide a more intellectually stimulating and supportive home environment produce children with more positive self-concepts, and that leads to more effective leadership as adults

Riggio, R.E., & Mumford, M.D. (2011). Introduction to the special issue: Longitudinal studies of leadership development. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3), 453-456.

Guerin, D.W., Oliver, P.H., Gottfried, A.W., Gottfried, A.E., Reichard, R.J., & Riggio, R.E. (2011). Childhood and adolescent antecedents of social skills and leadership potential in adulthood: Temperamental approach/withdrawal and extraversion. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3), 482-494.

Gottfried, A.E., Gottfried, A.W., Reichard, R.J., Guerin, D.W., Oliver, P.H., & Riggio, R.E. (2011). Motivational roots of leadership: A longitudinal study from childhood through adulthood. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3),510-519.

Oliver, P.H., Guerin, D.W., Gottfried, A.W., Gottfried, A.E., Reichard, R.J., & Riggio, R.E. (2011). Adolescent family environmental antecedents to leadership potential: A longitudinal mediational analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3), 535-544.

Reichard, R.J., Riggio, R.E., Guerin, D.W., Oliver, P.H., Gottfried, A.W., & Gottfried, A.E. (2011). A prospective, longitudinal study of the relationship between adolescent personality and intelligence and adult leader emergence and transformational leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3), 471-481.

The Undergraduate Leadership Experience (ULE) project. The “signature” research project of KLI follows undergraduate students from the time of their college applications through their adult years. The intent is to determine which college-year experiences lead to the later development of leadership. Participants include all applicants to CMC, who are studied longitudinally during their college years and beyond.

This past academic year, a number of CMC students and KLI faculty and staff have been involved in the ULE study. Some of the more recent findings include:

  • Students with greater pre-college leadership experience had higher social skills and more motivation to lead than did those with lower levels of high school leadership experience.
  • Students who complete at least one leadership course at CMC are more motivated to lead and more optimistic

The ULE project is now in its 8th year of data collection, and has begun to survey alumni from CMC and other colleges to look at post-college leadership experiences and success.

Tan, S.J., Porter, N.C., Teevens, Alexa (CMC ’13), Beckett, Ellie (CMC ’13). Developing leaders: The relationship between leadership education and positive leadership. Research poster presented at meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, April, 2012.

Dang, Jessica H. (CMC ’13). Undergraduate leadership education: Developing leadership skills and abilities. Research poster presented at meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, April, 2012.

Riggio, R.E., & Tan, S.J. Undergraduate leadership education: Program development and evaluation. Panel presentation at the Annual Global Conference of the International Leadership Association, London, UK, October, 2011.