Leadership Practices and Effectiveness among Greek Student Leaders

By Adams, Todd C.; Keim, Marybelle C. | College Student Journal, June 2000 | Go to article overview

Leadership Practices and Effectiveness among Greek Student Leaders


Adams, Todd C., Keim, Marybelle C., College Student Journal


The purpose of the study was to examine leadership practices of Greek-affiliated student leaders at three public, midwestern universities and to measure their effectiveness as determined by chapter presidents, executive council members, and general members of on-campus fraternities and sororities. Participants completed the Student Leadership Practices Inventory and the Leadership Effectiveness Survey, and when responses were compared, significant differences were revealed. Women rated their chapter presidents higher than men did, and also felt more strongly that their presidents were effective leaders. Both men and women agreed that presidents were effectual in representing their organizations to external groups.

Introduction

The issue of leadership has been increasingly discussed over the past several decades. The question of what makes a person a leader has been raised by academicians, politicians, and businesspersons all over the world. As Burns (1978) noted, "Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth" (p. 2). Clark, Freeman, and Britt (1987) found that over 600 colleges and universities offered courses and curricula on leadership. In addition, the importance of developing student leadership skills has been acknowledged in college and university mission statements (Bass, 1991).

Review of Literature

The relationship between leadership practices and organizational effectiveness has been studied in business and industry, as well as in post-secondary settings. To derive a conceptual framework of business leadership, Kouzes and Posner (1987) interviewed more than 1,000 managers. Based on this framework, they developed the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) (Kouzes & Posner, 1988). The LPI rates a leader's effectiveness on five factors: (a) Challenging the Process; (b) Inspiring a Shared Vision; (c) Enabling Others to Act; (d) Modeling the Way; and (e) Encouraging the Heart. Two versions of the instrument are used to collect data: the LPI-Self and the LPI-Other. Organizational leaders complete the LPI-Self, and their constituents complete the LPI-Other. The LPI has been used in leadership development programs by numerous organizations, including IBM, Levi Strauss and Motorola (Kouzes & Posner, 1988).

Kouzes and Posner (1988) examined leaders' attributes and effectiveness as measured by perceptions of group members/followers. They concluded that effective leaders scored significantly higher than ineffective leaders on the five leadership practices. Other researchers have found similar results that effective leaders inspire vision and shared power (Bass, 1985; Conger, Kanungo, & Associates, 1988).

In studies conducted in academic communities, college and university students have comprised the population or sample for much of the research about leadership practices, leader effectiveness, and the role gender plays with leaders and their groups (Butterfield & Powell, 1981; Jago & Vroom, 1982; Komives, 1994; Linimon, Barron, & Falbo, 1984; Posner & Brodsky, 1992; 1993; 1994). Butterfield and Powell surveyed 616 undergraduate students (372 men; 244 women) enrolled in a management course at the University of Massachusetts. They found that male and female managers using the same leadership style were evaluated equally. Both the initiating structure and consideration styles were evaluated more favorably, regardless of manager gender, when performance was high rather than low (p<.001).

Jago and Vroom (1982) conducted a study that dealt with differences in leadership styles of college students. One hundred sixty-one women and 322 men were asked to assume the role of leader in 30 hypothetical cases and respond with a decision making process. Women were found to be more participative in their self-reported leadership style than men (p<.01). In addition, women used group decision-making procedures more frequently than men (p<. …

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