Self-leadership practices of students involved in career and technical student organizations
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The purpose of this study was to describe the skills associated with self-leadership of students attending a two year post-secondary technical college. Self-leadership is defined as a self-influence process through which people achieve the self-direction and self-motivation necessary to perform (Manz, 1986). The three constructs outlined in Manz’s (1986) self-leadership theory served as dependent variables and included behavior-focused strategies, natural-reward strategies, and constructive-thought pattern strategies. Behavior-focused strategies include self-imposed ways individuals lead themselves to face the challenges, make the sacrifices, and take the necessary action to achieve a task. Often the task may be difficult, unattractive, and unpleasant, but essential. The specific strategies for an individual managing his/her behavior include self-observation, self-goal setting, self-reward, self-punishment, and self-cueing. Natural-reward strategies focus on rewards that are so closely tied to a given task or activity that the two cannot be separated. These are incentives built into doing the task. Constructive-thought patterns are habitual ways of thinking that result in a positive outcome. Examples of constructive-thought patterns include self-talk and mental imagery. The benefit of positive thinking offers the potential to help improve personal effectiveness just as much as behavioral strategies (Neck & Manz, 2007). The primary independent variable was student membership in career and technical student organization. This quantitative research involved surveying students. The causal comparative study consisted of two groups of students; those who were members of career and student organizations and those who were not members. The instrument selected to assess students’ self-perception of self-leadership skills was the Revised Self-Leadership Questionnaire (RSLQ), developed by Houghton and Neck (Houghton & Neck, 2002). Data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 16.0. Descriptive statistics and a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were calculated and the results reported. No significant differences were found in the self-leadership strategies of students who participated in career and technical student organizations and those who did not. Additional research is needed to determine the benefits of career and technical student organizations.