“How student affairs staff can assist more students to become involved in collegiate leadership opportunities” is one of the major questions that addressed in higher education institution, therefore empowering them to lead lives as leaders beyond the college environment (Astin & Astin, 2000).
Many college students obtain leadership experience through opportunities beyond the formal college classroom. Researchers have investigated how the experience of being involved with both learning communities and agricultural youth organizations influence academic performance, retention and degree completion (Bardou, Byrne, Paternak, & Perez (2003).
The results indicate that there is a positive relationship between student involvement and academic performance.
The way that a Student defines the leadership can play as a major role in whether perceives him/her as a leader or not. Influences on whether the students choose to get concerned in leadership opportunities, or look themselves as leaders, might be external to the student.
Student leaders often receive substantial praise, support, and opportunities, while those who are not engaged as leaders do not. Many students believe that access to options and opportunities often is what separates the privileged from the oppressed, these students noted that mentoring, intelligence, personality, a supportive family, and health are all opportunities that influence an individual’s success (Chizhik & Chizhik, 2002). These opportunities may also influence a student’s efficacy in regards to leadership (Astin & Astin, 2000).
Astin and Astin (2000) asserted that some perceptions of leadership promote constraining beliefs that limit student participation in leadership experiences. Constraining beliefs, according to Astin and Astin (2000), lead to disempowerment, which limit a student’s perception of him/herself as an active participant in leadership and change efforts. These beliefs can result in external actions such as students being disengaged in campus life, being passive learners in the classroom, and self-selecting themselves out of leadership opportunities (Astin & Astin, 2000). Many students may be unaware that they possess these limiting beliefs. Astin and Astin (2000) also concluded that the goal of leadership development initiatives should be to instill empowering beliefs in college students. They defined empowering beliefs as liberating thoughts that allow a student to believe that he or she can have an influence and make a difference. Empowering beliefs encourage students to become involved in multiple ways on campus and in the community.
Effective leaders promote and embrace change by promoting the growth of organizations to go beyond their calling, offering a better environment for their employees, and providing outstanding customer service. Leaders are thrown into situations where they must solve complex problems rapidly and have final answers in the decision-making process (Fullan, 2001). The complex situations in which leaders need to be prepared reflect the education our students attain in college. Potential employers expect college graduates to be effective leaders with enhanced problem-solving skills.
Students take a positive step in the direction of becoming effective leaders when they become aware of their leadership skills through personal assessment, identifying their core areas, understanding that things change, and recognizing the importance of leadership in their academic and career fields. Personal excellence skills are processes of learning that can help students approach their coursework in a different mentality.
Personal excellence is a progression of rejuvenation and continuous improvement and positive building at each step of an individual’s life (Nelson, Low, & Hammett, 2007). Personal excellence represents a development of the self in which individuals recognize behaviors that can lead them to successful outcomes. Becoming the best person sets the standard for becoming a great leader who can motivate others toward organizational goals. Personal excellence is indicated in people who develop their gifts and talents to the fullest, achieving a harmony in how they think, feel, behave, and believe that leads to productive relationships and outcomes. Rather than an arrival state, personal excellence is a journey in positive development beyond one’s self. It manifests in self-defined and self-valued achievements that reflect one’s best efforts. The emotional intelligence (El) centric theory of personal excellence connects the process of building quality from within the individual with the lived experience each individual has in their life (Nelson, Low, & Hammett, 2007).