Relationships between the leadership practices of student union and campus activities directors and the professional outcomes of entry-level professionals
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The purpose of this study was to examine how entry-level professionals perceive, assess, and describe the leadership practices of student union and campus activities directors and their own professional outcomes of entry-level professionals, as well as uncover relationships between these two sets of variables. These professional outcomes include (a) job satisfaction, (b) professional competency development, (c) intention to leave, and (d) engagement in the profession of student affairs. The leadership practices of the director were evaluated based on entry-level professionals' perceptions of five practices of exemplary leadership (Kouzes & Posner, 2002) of their supervisors, which include behaviors and attitudes that (a) model the way, (b) inspire a shared vision, (c) challenge the process, (d) enable others to act, and (e) encourage the heart. The study was guided by the following research questions. How do entry-level professionals assess and describe their perceptions of unit directors on five exemplary practices of leadership. How do entry-level professionals assess and describe themselves on the four professional outcomes. Are the five perceived practices of exemplary leadership of unit directors correlated with the four perceived professional outcomes of entry-level professionals? Data for the study was collected through surveys with qualitative items. The population included entry-level professionals who work in campus activities and student unions on college campuses in the Midwest. An analysis of the data was completed exploring general descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) to determine how the participants evaluated themselves and their director; an inductive analysis was employed to evaluate the open ended survey feedback; and finally Pearson's correlations (r) were completed to evaluate the relationship between the five exemplary practices of leadership and the four professional outcomes to make the following conclusions. Pearson's correlations (r) showed a large statistically significant, relationship between the five exemplary leadership practices and three of the four professional outcomes (job satisfaction, professional competency development, and intention to leave) with the largest relationships existing between the four professional outcomes and the leadership practices of enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. The open ended survey inductive analysis revealed that entry-level professionals perceive the need for encouragement of self-care, public and private recognition, a strategic vision for the future, empowerment to make decisions autonomously, and the active engagement of their director in their professional lives. The study's findings have implications for student union and campus activities directors, entry-level student affairs professionals, divisions of student affairs, and related professional associations. It demonstrates the importance for directors to be actively involved in the professional lives of their staff. Through further developing and utilizing the five exemplary practices of leadership, directors may have an immediate impact on job satisfaction, professional competency development, and the intention of entry-level professionals to leave the field.
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