Developmental Readiness for Leadership: The Differential Effects of Leadership Courses on Creating “Ready, Willing, and Able” Leaders

The development of effective leadership capacity involves multiple factors including increasing students’ leadership self-efficacy, motivation to lead, and leadership skills. This study of 165 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory leadership theory course explores the degree to which students report changes in these three areas of leadership from the beginning to the end of the course. Our analysis showed two important findings. First, students report significant gains in leadership self-efficacy, transformational and transactional leadership skill, and each measured form of motivation to lead at the conclusion of the course. Second, a closer examination shows that student learning is not across-the-board but, rather, differentiated. Students experience significantly different outcomes depending on their levels of self-efficacy and motivation to lead when they enter the course. These findings not only have broad implications for the way colleges and universities structure curricula around leadership development, but they also inform theoretical model-building regarding the process of student leadership development.