Relationships of the Leadership Attitudes and Beliefs Scale with Student Types, Study Habits, Life-Long Learning, and GPA
Wielkiewicz, Richard M., Prom, Christina L., Loos, Steven, College Student Journal
The Leadership Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (LABS-III; Wielkiewicz, 2000) was validated against a measure with a more traditional, position-based definition of leadership. Disagreement with Hierarchical Thinking was associated with a higher GPA. A Life-Long Learning scale was strongly associated with GPA, Systemic Thinking, and social activism. These results suggested there are likely to be multiple leadership development paths. Educational practitioners interested in leadership development may find it fruitful to broaden definitions of leadership development activities to include service learning trips, social welfare activities, learning communities, volunteering, internships, and other activities that develop social consciousness and life-long learning.
The Leadership Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (LAB S-III; Wielkiewicz, 2000), provides student development practitioners in higher education settings with an alternative method of assessing leadership development and evaluating leadership development programs. One purpose of the present study was to determine whether the LABS-III makes a unique contribution to the understanding of leadership development compared to a measure with a more traditional, position-based definition of leadership. A second purpose was to evaluate the relationships of leadership with college students' academic habits and attitudes. The ability to comprehend the systemic and ecological context of leadership requires a different set of intellectual skills than traditional, position-based approaches, and the present study was. designed to extend comprehension of this aspect of leadership development.
The LABS-III is based upon the theoretical notion that knowledge of the systems context in which leadership and organizational adaptation take place adds to an understanding of leadership. For example, Hannan and Freeman (1984) hypothesized that organizations rarely succeed in the radical changes needed to adapt to environmental challenges (e.g., Christensen, 2000). Thus, variations in organizations are the result of evolutionary selection and replacement, not adaptation of individual organizations. Colarelli (1998) also applied an evolutionary perspective to understanding organizations. He suggested that organizations are an emergent property of their specific components. Because relationships among the parts are "loose" r weakly associated, an organization should be structured for maximum flexibility and adaptiveness, rather than to accomplish a specific end or purpose. Concerns about the ability of organizations to adapt to the current environment (Cairns, 1998; Cascio, 1995; Clark, 1985; Gersick, 1991; Haveman, 1992; Johnston & Packer, 1987; Weick, 1985) have encouraged development of a variety of alternative leadership perspectives such as organizational learning (Rousseau, 1997; Senge, 1990), transformational leadership (Bass, 1985: House, 1977; Howell & Avolio, 1993), charismatic leadership (Conger, 1989; Conger & Kanungo, 1988, 1994), and the ecological or systemic approach to leadership (Allen & Cherrey, 2000; Allen, Stelzner, & Wielkiewicz, 1998), which is the main focus of the present paper.
Allen et al. (1998) based their theory on principles of ecology and systems thinking (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1986; Capra, 1996; Colarelli, 1998; Katz & Kahn, 1978; Kelly, Ryan, Altmann, & Stelzner, 2000; Levitt & March, 1988; Mathews, White, & Long, 1999; Miller, 1955, 1978; Novelli & Taylor, 1993). The theory posits that a successful organization functions like a complex adaptive system and that leadership is not a characteristic possessed by individuals. Instead, it is a process that emerges from individual actions. Rather than being relied upon for decision-making and direction, positional leaders can assist an organization's adaptation by facilitating information flow and encouraging broader participation in decision-making processes. The diversity that such processes add to decision-making enhances the probability that useful adaptive strategies will emerge (Ayman, 1993; Finlay, 1991; Helgesen, 1995; James, 1996; Klingsporn, 1973; Mai-Dalton, 1993; Paulus, 2000; Weisbord & Janoff, 1995).
The Leadership Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (LABS-III; Wielkiewicz, 2000) assesses college students' and others' leadership attitudes and beliefs in a manner consistent with the ecological approach to leadership theory developed by Allen et al. (1998). It provides a method of assessing the impact of leadership interventions, independent of the individual's experience in positions of leadership. It is also useful in studying the development and correlates of attitudes and beliefs about leadership in college students (e.g., Wielkiewicz, 2002). The LABS-III consists of two scales. The Hierarchical Thinking scale has 14 items that suggest organizations should be structured in a stable, hierarchical manner with power and control focused in the upper levels of the hierarchy. This style of thinking is characterized by a belief that control and authority extend downward in the hierarchy and that organizational members should seek guidance from the level above them. The Systemic Thinking scale has 14 items reflecting an ability to relate a variety of ideas and concepts to organizational success. Individuals high in systemic thinking are likely to believe that a variety of feedback loops should influence organizational decisions, that all organization members should share in the responsibility for organizational success, and that flexibility and adaptation to a changing world are key elements of organizational success. Thus, this style of thinking is characterized by being able to relate organizational success to the complex interaction of a number of factors, consistent with Allen et al.'s (1998) theory. The complete instrument appears in Table 5 of Wielkiewicz (2000).
One purpose of the present study was to validate the LABS-III against a …
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Publication information: Article title: Relationships of the Leadership Attitudes and Beliefs Scale with Student Types, Study Habits, Life-Long Learning, and GPA. Contributors: Wielkiewicz, Richard M. - Author, Prom, Christina L. - Author, Loos, Steven - Author. Journal title: College Student Journal. Volume: 39. Issue: 1 Publication date: March 2005. Page number: 31+. © 2009 Project Innovation (Alabama). COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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