The Big Five in predicting leadership styles of university students

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Book Chapter

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Interim status: Citation only.

Ebenreuter, J. L. & Hicks, R. E. (2008). The Big Five in predicting leadership styles of university students. In S. Boag (Ed.), Personality down under: Perspectives from Australia (pp. 41-52). New York, United States: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN: 9781604567946

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2008 HERDC submission. FoR code: 1701

© Copyright Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2008


The purpose of this study was to examine the degree to which the Five-Factor model of personality was useful for the assessment of leadership styles of university students. To do this, three specific leadership styles were assessed: Transformational, Transactional and Laissez-faire Leadership. Due to an increase in the understanding of the elements which constitute leadership, researchers have asked, given the contingencies and employment demands leaders typically face, whether different personality attributes are related to these styles (Bass et al., 1994). This query has resulted in a significant amount of research into the fundamental impact of leadership on institutional performance (Guastello, 1998). This paper examines the Big Five factors in relation to the early stages in the development of the three leadership styles and relates these findings to personality attributes of mostly older adults who have developed their leadership styles in the workplace. This paper answers the question: Are the same personal attributes related in the same way to different leadership styles among university students as exist among adults in the workforce? Eighty-seven first year University students (72 females and 15 males, mean age 25.1) recruited from a private Australian University, completed the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, the International Personality Item Pool Questionnaire and a survey on students' opportunities to lead. For data analysis, a hierarchical regression analysis was employed. It was hypothesised that Transformational Leadership would be related directly to the personality traits Extraversion and Openness to Experience; Transactional Leadership and Laissez-faire Leadership would be related directly to the personality traits Conscientiousness and Agreeableness; and none of the active leadership styles would be related to the Neuroticism personality variable. These hypotheses were supported except for Agreeableness, which was not related to any of the leadership styles.

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