Generational Differences in Perceptions of Leadership: A Look at Leadership Educators in Higher Education
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With the Millennials’ coming of age, there are now up to four generations in academia at one time. With these changing demographics come a change in preferred leadership styles and traits among colleagues and students. There is little research regarding faculty’s, leadership educators specifically, preferred leadership traits. Additionally, though research exists on Millennial students, research is lacking on perceptions of these students by their educators. In this study, an online survey was sent to 320 members of the Association of Leadership Educators asking respondents to rank-order ten leadership traits based on importance in an effective leader as well as rank order the same leadership traits for prevalence in their students. The survey also contained basic demographic questions, such as year of birth, rank, and department. After removing incomplete responses, a total of 57 responses were separated into Baby Boomers and Xers then analyzed using SPSS. Descriptive statistics were ran and the leadership traits were ranked based on mean. This study found that Baby Boomers value honest (2.43), competent (3.90), and inspiring (4.15) as most important in an effective leader. Xers were found to value competent (3.55), honest (3.70), and inspiring (4.50) as the most important leadership traits. Loyalty, an trait that research has found to be important to both of these generations, was ranked ninth and tenth by Baby Boomers and Xers respectively. This study also found that the same leadership educators believed their students, who represent the Millennial generation, embody the leadership traits of determined (4.07), ambitious (4.16), honest (4.35) most often. Competency, a leadership trait that respondents ranked as highly important in effective leaders, was only ranked as the fifth most prevalent trait in students. Research characterizes Millennials as high-achieving and ambitious, which this study found to be true.
Futrell, Angel Lynn (2013). Generational Differences in Perceptions of Leadership: A Look at Leadership Educators in Higher Education. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from