Student Leadership Perceptions in South Africa and the United States

Laura M. Getz, Michael M. Roy


The present study examined high school and college students’ perceptions of leadership traits necessary for
outstanding leaders to possess in South Africa and the United States. Students (N =124) indicated traits that both
inhibited and facilitated outstanding leadership using modified Project GLOBE (House et al., 2004, Culture,
leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies, SAGE Publications) questionnaires. Results
showed that: 1) Overall valence of trait dimensions remained constant across cultures and developmental stages;
2) South African students rated traits less strongly than American students overall, showing a less distinct
definition of outstanding leadership; 3) College students’ ratings of positive versus negative leadership traits
were more differentiated than their high school counterparts’ ratings; 4) The ratings of students in this study
mirrored those of business people from Project GLOBE, although college students tended to have an even more
distinct definition of what makes a good leader. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of considering
cultural and developmental contexts when studying leadership traits.

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International Journal of Psychological Studies   ISSN 1918-7211 (Print)   ISSN 1918-722X (Online)

Copyright © Canadian Center of Science and Education


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