The complexities of modern society require that today’s leaders encompass many characteristics that past leaders did not need to possess. Not only do our leaders need to be politically and socially savvy and have a broad understanding of foreign and domestic policy concerns, but they must be culturally sensitive. The leaders of tomorrow will be faced with a population that is racially diverse, and they must be able to address the needs of varying cultures, socioeconomic groups, and minority concerns. Therefore, leadership programs designed to groom leaders of the future need to consider race and its impact on leadership. Colleges that offer leadership programs realize that these specialized opportunities influence other areas of a student’s life, including social, academic, and professional domains. Understanding how racial tolerance and racial diversity contribute to leadership aspirations and their derivatives could help colleges design programs that will shape leaders in a way that will better prepare them to address the variety of issues they will inevitably face.
In an effort to expose the relationship between race and leadership, John P. Dugan, an assistant professor of higher education at Loyola University in Chicago, recently examined data from more than 8,500 college students throughout the United States. He discovered that collective racial esteem (CRE) and self-esteem were critical to the overall impact of race on leadership. Specifically, Dugan found that the participants who had high levels of CRE identified more closely with their races than those with low CRE. He also noticed that in addition to CRE, multiple dimensions of race played important roles in determining leadership effectiveness and development, and as of yet, these dimensions have not been fully explored. Dugan suggests that if colleges want to fulfill their social obligations to identify and shape the leaders of the future in a socially responsible way, then further research in this area is essential. “Evidence from this research provides a starting point to engage in this important work,” said Dugan.
Dugan, J. P., Kodama, C. M., Gebhardt, M. C. (2012). Race and leadership development among college students: The additive value of collective racial esteem. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029133
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