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Attributes of successful rural women leaders and their contribution to the leadership journey

Anita M Hall, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Rural women leaders living in isolated frontier counties describe their aspirations for pursuing community leadership roles. Using grounded theory methodology, a model is presented for a holistic approach to teaching leadership development. Four causal conditions influenced the leadership journey: (1) the family of origin through role modeling by parents; support in marriage; (2) spirituality; (3) social capital; and (4) character/personhood. The importance of leaving the isolated country temporarily through employment and/or education instilled the importance of social networks and the value of diverse relationships. The task of leaving a legacy for the family emerged as the key outcome of leadership aspirations. Self-confidence was a personal outcome which was strengthened by employment opportunities, mentors, successful endeavors and family support. The acquisition of social capital was the strategy for overcoming the isolation of the land. Seven propositions emerged from the data: (1) the family of origin models leadership skills which ultimately are instilled and practiced in community settings by the children into their adulthood; (2) the legacy of the family unit serves as a driving force for leadership efforts in sparsely populated rural communities thus contributing to the continuation of the rural culture; (3) a spiritual dimension can be a catalyst for leadership aspiration; (4) social capital provides a mechanism to combat the isolation of living and working in a rural area resulting in greater opportunity to network with others toward the implementation of community goals; (5) personal crisis points can serve as motivators for leadership behaviors to emerge; (6) self-efficacy can be learned through social encounters in employment and organizational settings resulting in the undertaking of leadership roles in the community and (7) educators position themselves strategically in the life-long development of leadership aspirations of rural women recognizing the uncertainty of the leadership influences of the women at the moment in time in which the education is delivered. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Adult and Continuing

Recommended Citation

Hall, Anita M, "Attributes of successful rural women leaders and their contribution to the leadership journey" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3284004.