This grounded theory study aimed to understand the process of leadership identity development experienced by traditional-aged female undergraduate college students. The findings led to a model for leadership identity development consisting of four phases. Students’ leadership identity development progressed from views of leadership as external to self to positional leaders to incorporation of self-as-leader whether in a position or not. The final phase reflected a shift to leading for social change. In the early phases of the model, the female students in this study saw gender as irrelevant to them as leaders even though they recognized societal views of female leaders as weaker or less capable. In later phases they understood how being female mattered, and by Phase 4 they recognized a need to take a stand on societal issues related to gender and race.

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© 2015 Association of Leadership Educators

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