Eliana Cohen, Organizational Behavior

Learning to Lead: Understanding the Development of College Students' Leadership Skills

Developing leadership skills in college is particularly important in light of recent findings that suggest that the nature of the workplace is changing dramatically. My project first examines what makes a leader successful at a universal level and how colleges create opportunities for students to cultivate leadership skills. It then transitions into a case study of four student leadership institutions at Swarthmore (RAs, SAMs, WAs, and CPAs). Using Corey Seemiller’s Student Leadership Competencies Inventory, I developed survey questions for administrators, current students, and recent graduates within these programs. Overall, I found considerable consistencies in both the administrators’ interviews and in the student and post-graduate surveys suggesting that the student leadership institutions at Swarthmore aim to instill, and are successful in instilling, universal leadership skills. I propose several recommendations to further enhance leadership skill acquisition including increased visionary planning exercises and inter-group mentorship programs.