Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication


Date of this Version



New Dir Stud Lead. 2022;2022:5–8.


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While the field of leadership education continues to grow in terms of number of programs, students, and associated professional educators, our rigorous understanding of the impact of these programs has continued to lag behind such growth. Many postsecondary leadership educators work on campuses and have graduated from masters-level preparatory programs that do not focus extensively on rigorous research/assessment methods and may, therefore, lack the background necessary for high-level work (Brachle et al., 2021; Rosch et al., 2017; Teig, 2018). As a result, researchers and program assessment staff often recognize the need to take their methodological development “into their own hands” to increase their knowledge and maintain the high standards of rigor required in well-developed fields. Advancements in leadership education have afforded the opportunity to facilitate leadership learning better today than 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. For example, advancements in leadership education have taught us the critical importance of undergirding leader/leadership development (LD) programs in leadership theory and research that match learner needs (Avolio et al., 2009; Day & Liu, 2019) – this is what separates leadership education from expensive leadership development consultations that lack depth and involve programs based on popular fads. Advancements in leadership education have taught us that leadership is an active and dynamic process, where leadership is not singularly about the leader (Day et al., 2014; Komives et al., 2013). Those who are not in formal leadership roles are not passive recipients of whatever the leader does, but rather have important voice and are an active and essential part of the leadership process. Thus, we are learning that LD programs must be multi-level (Day et al., 2014; DeRue & Myers, 2014; O’Connell, 2014) – LD cannot focus on individual leader development and expect the team to get better, but rather team leadership capacity must also be enhanced.