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Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

The Impact of LeaderShape: The Cognitive Representations of Students

Individual Responses and Their Individual Leadership Development

Connie Beck

November 2016
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

Introduction

LeaderShape is a leadership development program that consists of a six-day


intensive training. These six days incorporate opportunities where individuals
are challenged to learn about who they are, so that they can be the leaders
that they were meant to be. Over the course of the program, individuals are
given a supportive community called family clusters where they are able to
engage in deeper conversations with one another. These family clusters
serve as a foundation to each participants growth as they are able to dive
into meaningful conversations, challenging activities, and personal
opportunities of growth throughout the six day period. Overall, this program
has served and continues to serve its individuals with a clear understanding
of how to be an effective leader in their community by shaping their personal
understanding of their leadership traits. In the end, each individual is
encouraged to illustrate their personal mission statement and challenged to
connect their passions back into their communities, so that they can
effectively invest what they learned overtime.

Purpose & Method

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of the LeaderShape
program at the University of Memphis. A qualitative design was used to
study students individual stories and learn what served as a catalyst to their
individual development as a leader. Content analysis was developed as a
method for analyzing each individuals story.

Procedure

The participants contacted to participate in this study were male and female
students in LeaderShape cohorts ranging from 2008-2016. All participants
were invited to take part in this study through email. The email briefly
informed students about the overall goal to discover the impact of the
program and obtain information about students individual experiences.
Lastly, the email provided participants to sign up for an interview on campus.

All participants were interviewed individually, excluding two group interviews


consisting of groups of two individuals. Each interview lasted for 30 to 60
minutes and was recorded into textual data in the form of written notes. The
questions to each participant included What was your favorite part of
LeaderShape?, How did this program change your view of Leadership?,
How did this program assist you in becoming a leader?, What would you
say your definition of leadership is now after completing the program?, and
What was the overall impact that this program had on you personally? The
participants were encouraged to openly share their experiences as they
answered each question and in addition, were occasionally asked for
clarification and expanded detail to describe their experience at times.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

Interview Data

Participants Major LeaderShape


Cohort
Jacquelyn Political Science 2015
Jossee
Jessica Logan Accounting 2016
Rachel Psychology 2016
Townsend
Marisa H Music Business 2015
Derek Graduate of UofM 2014
Hardaway
Jasmine Bell Psychology/Crimi 2016
nal Justice
Tianna Scott Broadcast 2014
Journalism
Jasmine Nuttle Computer 2008
Science
Shanice Rice Psychology 2013
Jawon Salami Communication 2014

From 10 Interviews, 50 significant statements were collected. Table 1


includes examples of significant statements with their formulated meanings.
Arranging the formulated meanings into clusters resulted in 8 themes. Table
2 reveals some examples of theme clusters that emerged from their
associated meanings.

Table 1: Selected Examples of Significant Statements of


Individuals Experiences with LeaderShape and Related Meanings
The Family Clusters were my favorite aspect Being known in community is a powerful on
of LeaderShape because they caused me to ramp to understanding leadership skills and
break out of my shell and increased my sense of self.
individual confidence about who I was as a
leader. Because I could be known and
accepted by my peers, this supportive
community served as a catalyst towards my
individual growth. This community was a
positive support system for me that helped me
understand how I could improve my
leadership skills, but still live out my
personality by being a quiet leader.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

This program changed my view of Everyone, regardless of personality, has the


leadership because it helped me recognize capability to be leaders. Leaders must know
that it didnt matter who you were or where themselves in order to lead effectively.
you came from. In the end, all that mattered
was that you knew yourself and believed in
yourself and that you could use your
personality to lead effectively regardless if
you are an introvert or extrovert.
This program assisted me in becoming a Accepting self serves as a catalyst towards
leader because it gave me the tools to seeking out opportunities to lead.
succeed. Once I was able to recognize that I
could be a quiet leader by accepting my
personality myself, I felt compelled to seek
out opportunities to lead.
After completing this LeaderShape program, Leadership is practiced professionally, while
my definition of leadership would be: being a role model for others.
Performing professionally while being a
aspiring strong and positive role model to
others.

Table 2: Example of 2 Theme Clusters with Their Associated Meaning


Taking Risks
Learned it was ok to fail
Provided opportunities of growth when done
Felt more comfortable taking risks knowing the outcome was ok if failed
Flexibility
Adaptability is important when leading
All people are different and imperfect
People need to be given grace

Theme 1: Being known in Community


Theme 2: Confidence
Theme 3: Taking Risks & Stepping outside of Comfort Zone
Theme 4: Introvert Personalities
Theme 5: Humility & Integrity
Theme 6: Flexibility
Theme 7: Helping others become leaders

Theme 1: Being known in Community. In this cluster, students described


the ways in which they grew and developed due to the environment that
they had been placed in. Multiple students described the ways in which the
Family Clusters created a sense of belonging and community that they
needed in order grow and develop over the course of the program. This
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

environment served the students in multiple ways, creating a foundation for


individuals to be known in a group context.
One student noted their experiences with the Family Clusters as an onramp
for understanding who they were as a leader.

The Family Clusters were my favorite aspect of LeaderShape because it provided


me with a group dynamic that allowed me to get to know other people and in the
end, get to know myself. The small group aspect helped me take a deep look at my
personal personality and help me see how I could incorporate my style into other
avenues of leadership on campus.

For some students, this community was the catalyst that fueled their
leadership development and in the end, challenged them to grow, pursuing
new opportunities to develop themselves.

The Family Clusters were my favorite aspect of LeaderShape because they


provided me with a community that allowed me to learn from my peers. By being
able to dive into different conversations, I was able to learn from others
perspectives and was challenged to grow individually.

Multiple students described the ways in which these family clusters gave them the supportive
community they needed once the LeaderShape program was over. One student described the
ways in which her LeaderShape Family Cluster gave her extra support when she learned that her
brother died shortly after she ended the LeaderShape program. She spoke highly about the
individuals who spent time with her in that season and expressed gratitude for their willingness
to surround her during a time that was very difficult in her life.

Theme 2: Confidence. All individuals that were interviewed expressed how they developed the
confidence they needed in order to thrive as leaders. For some students, this helped them engage
with their community and increase their leadership opportunities, which expanded their growth.

This program personally impacted me because it gave me the confidence to


pursue opportunities to lead on campus. So far I have served in multiple
capacities on campus such as; Chief clerk for the Student Governing
Association, Panhellenic Executive Board for my sorority, Blue Crew, and am
currently an RA in Centennial Place.

For other students, the LeaderShape program increased their confidence in


their personal strengths and understanding of their personality.

This program assisted me in becoming a leader because helped me become confident in my


leadership abilities. This program improved my understanding of what I was gifted in.

Consistently, individuals who participated in the LeaderShape program had a


direct correlation with being more confident in their ability to lead. This
program equipped students with an understanding of themselves, which in
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

return, gave them the foundation they needed in order to move forward in
their individual pursuits of leadership.

Theme 3: Taking Risks & Stepping outside of Comfort Zone. Students in this
cluster emphasized how they were more willing to challenge themselves by
stepping outside of their comfort zones and risking opportunities as a result
of being in the program. Many Students explained that because they felt
accepted by their Family Clusters they no longer feared rejection, causing
them to fearlessly pursue opportunities to lead and risk the potential
possibility of failing because being accepted no longer ruled their hearts.
One student described how LeaderShape impacted their ability to combat
their fear by equipping them with the tools to believe in themselves.

This program assisted me in becoming a leader because it helped me understand


how I could combat my fear and take a stand. It also helped me understand how I
could take on leadership opportunities without having the fear of failure on my
back. Because of this program, I was able to learn how to combat my fear and
believe in myself.

These tools also equipped students by empowering them to look past what
the world says about them, and to focus on who they say that they are. One
student emphasized how LeaderShape inspired them to step outside of their
comfort zone in pursuing opportunities to lead.

This program changed my view of leadership because it helped inspire me to take


a chance and risk opportunities as a leader. It pushed me to pursue discomfort in
order to grow individually overtime.

Because of LeaderShape, more students saw the importance in growing in


their own leadership and believed that it was impossible to grow without
stepping into situations in which they felt fear. Students agreed that fear was
a good thing and that it provided a foundation for them to risk something
huge, but gain something just as big in return even if they failed. Students
consistently spoke of how important it was to risk in leading because they
recognized the relationship between learning and leading. Students
illustrated that they now understood that stepping into situations in which
you may risk failing, would provide them with learning opportunities,
regardless if they failed or not. This seemed to be the initial concern of the
students, not what the students were thinking others thought of them.

Theme 4: Introvert Personalities. In this cluster, students identified that they felt confident in
their introverted personalities as a result of being in the LeaderShape program. Ironically, 8 out
of 10 students that were interviewed identified as introverted. What helped these students
flourish as introvert leaders was their ability to recognize that introverts could be leaders as well
as extroverted leaders.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

Once I was able to recognize that I could be a quiet leader by accepting my


personality, I felt compelled to seek out opportunities to lead.

Students spoke about how this program gave them the opportunity to accept
themselves and rest in their leadership style. Consistently, the students who
identified as introverted explained that before they attended the
LeaderShape program, they did not believe that introverted personalities
could lead as well as extroverted personalities. Because introverts were not
as willing to speak in front of large groups, give their opinion, or take on
being in charge of smaller groups or events, the students who identified as
introverts explained that they used to fear they could not be leaders.
However, through the use of LeaderShape, these individuals explained that
they recognized how they could lead because the program focused on
helping them identify what their strengths were and that introverted
personality strengths were greatly needed in leadership. Once these
students recognized that their personality was needed and affirmed, they felt
confident in their ability to be leaders.

Theme 5: Humility & Integrity. As a result of the LeaderShape program, many students
explained that they foresaw humility and integrity as the building blocks that characterized solid
leaders. Students described how they developed a sense of humility when recognizing that they
were not the only leaders and that by having a position of leadership, it didnt mean that they
were the only one who could make decisions and lead.

This program changed my view of leadership because it helped me understand


how I could give others the opportunity to become leaders, instead of taking the
opportunity to lead myself. It helped me see how I could delegate tasks to others to
empower them overtime, instead of doing them myself.

Students consistently emphasized how humility was what caught their attention when following
leadership and was what they believed leaders needed in order to serve an organization or group.
Leaders who lived out humility were focused on the outcomes of the organization or group, more
than on their needs. Leaders who lived out humility were willing to serve others before
themselves which had a direct correlation with gaining the respect of other individuals.

In addition, LeaderShape emphasized how important Integrity was in pursuing leadership. One
student described how LeaderShape challenged him to live out integrity in his life as a result of
completing the program.

This program changed my view of leadership because it helped me recognize how


important it was to live with integrity. This program challenged me to understand
how I needed to understand my values in order to live them out overtime.

When asked what their definition of leadership was, one student explained that her
definition was integrity.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

After completing this LeaderShape program, my definition of leadership would be:


Doing the right thing when no one is watching.

Theme 6: Flexibility. In this cluster, individuals emphasized how they grew in their willingness
to become more flexible when working with others and when leading others in leadership roles
and opportunities. One student described her definition of leadership as being flexible.

After completing this LeaderShape program, my definition of leadership would be:


Leadership is being flexible and teachable overtime.

Students consistently spoke about how LeaderShape helped them recognize


the need to give grace on their peers when they made a mistake, as well as
give grace to themselves when they happened to make a mistake as well.
Individuals described ways in which they were able to grow in their
understanding of mistakes and how this helped them adapt to working with
people who were different from them. Individuals also emphasized that the
more they recognized how imperfect they were, the more they were willing
to recognize how imperfect the people they were interacting with were. As a
result, this helped them have more compassion on followers and on other
leaders. One student described his experience in recognizing his need to
become more flexible through his understanding of learning styles.

This program changed my view of leadership because it helped me see how I could
impact others by adapting myself to individuals different learning styles in order to
best communicate with them overtime. It also taught me how to be flexible and
understand the importance of having a balance in pursuing leadership and doing
daily life.

Because all people are different, LeaderShape helped these students identify
that different was not bad, it was just different. LeaderShape equipped these
individuals with a new understanding of flexibility and increased their
awareness of what it was like to work with people when things did not go the
way they expected or hoped. As a result, students were much more willing to
adapt themselves to different learning styles, environments, and
personalities, in order to better lead their organization or group.

Theme 7: Helping others become leaders. Many students identified how


LeaderShape extrinsically and intrinsically motivated them to invest time into
building up other leaders who could effectively lead. Students indicated that
over the course of their leadership development, they had an increased
desire to leave an impact by equipping other students like themselves with
the tools they needed in order to become the leaders they were meant to be.
One student described that they felt motivated to maximize others potential
as a result of completing the program.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

This program personally impacted me because it helped me see how I could


maximize others potential and encourage them to seek opportunities of growth.

The impact that LeaderShape had on these individuals encouraged them to seek out
opportunities to help other people like themselves, develop into better leaders.
Consistently, these students emphasized ways in which they saw the need to help
direct people towards personally developing their leadership as a result of
completing the program.

This program helped me to see that people are sheep, and that they need a leader
to help guide them overtime. As a result of this program, I want to be a leader to
help other sheep know how they can best live out who they are.

Theoretical Analysis

Two theories were used in assessing the data that was obtained in this study;
the Leadership Identity Theory and Model, and Schlossbergs Mattering and
Marginality Theory.

The LID theory provides the framework for understanding the processes a
person experiences in creating a leadership identity. This theory was chosen
to emphasize the stages of development that each student was in as a result
of their experience in the LeaderShape program.

Most students described their ideas about leadership before they


participated in the LeaderShape program as individuals who would be
recognized in stage 1 or stage 2. This reveals that majority of the students
had the same understanding of leadership coming into the program. This
understanding, the idea that leaders are out there somewhere, but I am not
one of them, rang true for most of the students interviewed. Ironically,
because most of the students interviewed were introverts, these students
understanding of leadership was that introverts could not be leaders and
therefore, they did not consider themselves leaders because they were not
extroverted.

However, once these students participated in the program and recognized


their strengths, these students leadership development drastically
developed. Going from stages 1 or 2, most students by the end of the
program developed into stages 5 or 6. These stages indicated that majority
of the students went from not thinking they were leaders, to being leaders
who wanted to make an impact on others by transferring what they learned
into the hearts and souls of people just like them. This rang true for majority
of the students interviewed and emphasized that in order to lead, students
needed to know that they mattered and belonged.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

Participants Name Stage Before Stage After


LeaderShape LeaderShape
Jacquelyn Jossee Stage 2 Stage 6
Jessica Logan Stage 1 Stage 5
Rachel Townsend Stage 2 Stage 6
Marisa H Stage 2 Stage 5
Derek Hardaway Stage 2 Stage 5
Jasmine Bell Stage 2 Stage 6
Tianna Scott Stage 2 Stage 6
Jasmine Nuttle Stage 2 Stage 6
Shanice Rice Stage 1 Stage 5
Jawon Salami Stage 2 Stage 6

Schlossbergs Mattering and Marginality Theory exposes the idea that


students need to know that they matter and belong in order for them to
consistently develop. In addition, these students need to know that they are
noticed; cared about, recognized for their success, and that they are needed.
Four concepts identify these student needs: Attention, Importance,
Dependence, and Appreciation.

For majority of the students interviewed, this concept of knowing that they
mattered and belonged took place through the relationships that they built in
their family clusters. These family clusters provided them with the
community that they needed in order to not only find their sense of
belonging, but find themselves as well. Because these family clusters gave
them the acceptance they needed, students ironically were more likely to
accept themselves after they recognized that they mattered and belonged to
other people. This served as a catalyst to students grow and understanding,
as it provided the confidence that many of the students needed in order to
pursue leadership opportunities and expand their development overtime.

Table 1: Leadership Identity Development Cycle


Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

Table 2: Leadership Identity Development Model


Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

Discussion

Overall, LeaderShape consistently served as a foundation of growth for


the 10 interviewed students in this study. As a result of these students
participation, students gained the support system they needed in order to
understand who they were as individuals and in return, developed the
confidence that rapidly served as a reminder to them that they were capable
of leading.

Ultimately, this study indicated the competencies that students needed in


order to be successful leaders. The primary need for being a successful
leader in this study was introduced through theme 1: Being Known in
Community. For these students, this was the foundation and building block to
their individual leadership development and their overall success as leaders
and heavily influenced their ability to be confident in themselves, take risks,
accept their personality, gain understanding of character in leadership,
become more flexible, and lastly, desire to impact others. Ultimately, this
concept of being known in community identified that students needed to
know that they mattered and belonged in order to take on leadership
opportunities and in order to be successful in their endeavors. Mattering,
therefore, served as the main need for these students in their pursuit of
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES

leadership and profoundly and deeply impacted not only their sense of
belonging, but also their sense of acceptance to themselves.
Acceptance from others surfaced as the next need that students needed in
order to be successful in their leadership. Once students were able to gather
that they were accepted from their peers or fellow leaders, they were more
likely to accept themselves and their leadership styles and personalities. This
illustrated the idea that in order for them to move forward, they needed to
know that they were believed in, accepted, and appreciated for who they
were. Once this concept was achieved, students were able to rest in their
leadership styles, not striving to change who they were, but celebrating who
they were by having the confidence to seek out opportunities to expand their
knowledge and engage with others as a result.

Students who knew that they mattered and belonged, were accepted by
their peers and leaders, and who accepted themselves, were more likely to
take risks and step outside of their comfort zone. Students who took risks in
their pursuit of leadership were more likely to step outside of their comfort
zone and more likely to move forward in their leadership development
because they were seeking out opportunities to grow and personal
development.

In return, mattering and belonging, acceptance from others, and acceptance


of self, indicate the needs and competencies of successful leaders. With
these three concepts in order, students will have the foundation to take risks
and step outside of their comfort zone, indicating that they are able to
challenge themselves on their own as they moved forward in their leadership
development and be successful in their pursuit.

Future Implications

If students need to know that they matter and belong, then all leaders need
to have this concept in place before becoming leaders. In the future, one
could assess leaders who are not growing by identifying where these
students are in their concept of mattering and marginality. Because it so
heavily influences their ability to lead, colleges and universities should
establish environments and communities where students are able to develop
a sense of belonging and be known in return. If students are known, then
students will more likely believe that they are accepted by others, accept
themselves in return, and seek out opportunities for further growth, building
the onramp of potential for future successful leaders.
Running head: THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHAPE: STUDENTS STORIES