Self-perceptions of leadership held by upper classmen in two Missouri FFA chapters: a collective case study
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The National FFA Organization is widely recognized as a premier youth leadership development organization. Though numerous studies of leadership within the FFA have been conducted, a better understanding of leadership from the adolescent perspective is needed (Van Linden & Fertman, 1998; Whitehead, 2009). The increase in female leadership across the FFA has also resulted in the need for more research in regards to leadership differences between genders (Brick, 1998; Dormody & Seevers, 1994; Ricketts, Osborne & Rudd, 2004; Wingenbach & Kahler, 1997). The purpose of this study was to describe the self-perceptions of leadership possessed by upper-classmen FFA members in two Missouri FFA chapters. This qualitative inquiry utilized a collective case study methodology (Stake, 1995). The study adhered to the conceptual model proposed by Ricketts, Osborne and Rudd (2004) and utilized McClelland's (1961) theory of motivation to form the theoretical foundation. The researcher collected reflective questionnaires from leading and non-leading students, conducted focus group interviews, and utilized observations during the data collection process. Data analysis and reporting were driven by participants' responses and utilized the procedures purported by Stake (1995) and the work of Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh and Sorensen (2006). Six major themes emerged from this study: Personal Abilities and Motivations Influence Leaders; Support from Others Influences Student Leadership; Significant Barriers to Leadership are Perceived by Leaders and Non-Leaders; Leadership Enhances Personal and Professional Development; Leaders Perceive that Non-Leaders are Apathetic; and Gender Differences in Leadership Style are Perceived. Based upon the findings and conclusions of this study, it is recommended that FFA advisors make a deliberate effort to begin the conversation with chapter leadership teams about the differences between student leadership styles and motivation; thus, developing the potential for leadership within a larger group of students. Advisors should also seek to understand and recognize the differences between male and female leadership within their chapter and make a concerted effort to structure leadership tasks suitable for both gender's leadership styles. A number of recommendations for future research may be asserted based on the findings and conclusions of this study. It is recommended that a more thorough investigation of the differences between chapter leaders and non-leaders be conducted along with research that focuses on the differences in leadership style between genders.
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