This descriptive study used an interview protocol developed by the Center for Creative Leadership with 50 college student leaders to determine what key developmental events young college leaders experience and the leadership lessons learned from these events. Students discussed 180 events and 734 lessons learned from them. Most events defined by students were challenging assignments, although events dealing with other people, coursework, and formal leadership programs were also mentioned. Top lessons included communication, self-identity, leadership identity, and developing leadership task and management skills. While many lessons could be learned in a variety of different ways, a number of challenging assignments stood out as important for learning certain lessons. Findings suggest that faculty and administrators involved with student leaders can help the students take a proactive approach to developing themselves as leaders by targeting important events and important lessons to learn.
Key Events in Student Leaders’ Lives and Lessons Learned from Them