Ask staff from community organizations about what they feel students need to learn in college, and you will hear a common answer: Students need to learn leadership skills. They need to learn leadership skills in college, so that they can help their communities. Surprisingly, this same answer is heard when personnel managers of both big and small companies are asked to identify qualities they look for in hiring recent college graduates. They also rank a job candidate’s leadership skills as the main factor in hiring. As we will see later, community groups and companies have a definition of leadership that is different from the prevailing definition. Community groups and companies equate leadership with the ability to work well with other people. Later, we will see why this expanded understanding of leadership is so significant for our world today.
Sadly, in college classes today, few students learn the leadership skills they need for their future jobs or to serve their communities. In most universities, the development of student leadership skills is not part of the academic curriculum but relegated to “extra-curricular” activities — i.e., it is regarded as part of students’ non-academic activities in clubs and organizations.