Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program Research

In summer 2017, the Year 3 Golden LEAF Leadership Scholars interviewed rural leaders from their home communities as part of their summer projects. These interviews were modeled after the Center for Creative Leadership’s (CCL) original Lessons of Experience research (McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988). A small team of Golden LEAF Scholars and researchers from CCL worked together to analyze the data in response to 3 research questions:

  • How do you become a rural leader?
  • How do you grow as a rural leader?
  • How do you succeed as a rural leader?

Becoming a Rural Leader

Our first goal to understanding rural leadership was to examine the ways that individuals become rural leaders. We found 3 main factors that influence pathways to rural leadership: education, mobility, and family and community ties.

Growing as a Rural Leader

Rural leaders grow by learning from experience. All respondents cited on the job experiences as key to their continued leadership learning, while about a third of respondents said that either formal learning (university courses or classroom style professional development) or informal learning (seminars, workshops, etc.) were formative to their growth as a rural leader*.

Succeeding as a Rural Leader

We asked current successful rural leaders about the qualities that help rural leaders influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of their organization or group. Success was defined as being able to create positive change, that is sustainable, and has benefited communities or groups of people.

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