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"How Does Leadership Education Increase Integrative Leadership?"

A reflection on the work of Donna Rae Scheffert, Scott Chazdon, and Ben Winchester

By Liz Stone

As part of its goal to advance the study and demonstration of Integrative Leadership, the CIL awarded nine Research Awards in the Spring of 2009. These grants support scholars who explore several core questions about integrative thinking, behavior, leadership, and practice.

The annual CIL Research Awards honor scholars who are expected to fuel and broaden integrative thinking and practice across boundaries in their chosen field. The awards help to fund integrative leadership research, focusing especially on important societal problems, with significant implications for both scholars and practitioners.

The Executive Summary of Sheffert, Chazdon, and Winchester's research can be found on the CIL website or by clicking here.

Integrative leadership is not a new concept; it is being practiced by individuals across the state, country, and world. In their study looking at the impact of leadership education on integrative leadership qualities, Scheffert, Chazdon and Winchester found just that. Participants in the U-Lead program (the focus of their study) were already highly involved in multiple organizations and sectors within their communities.

Based on a pre- and post-survey conducted with participants, the authors found that 70% of the U-Lead participants were involved in more than one sector at the beginning of the program. As Scheffert, Chazdon and Winchester aptly noted, they were "not surprised by this finding because of the tendency for rural leaders to wear multiple hats." What about the rural setting may make leaders more inclined to integrative leadership? Or, would it be likely to find a similar result in different settings as well?

In their report, Scheffert, Chazdon and Winchester suggest "exploring a leadership cohort track that focuses on leaders who are already integrative in their community involvement." This suggestion is based on their finding that the level of community leadership increased the most for individuals involved only in one sector and that improvement for participants involved in two or more sectors will not be as significant. This research raises important questions to consider in the design and focus of leadership education.

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