Preparing Future Leaders: Exploring leadership and team development in higher education using the Strength Deployment Inventory©


As technology continues to evolve at breathtaking speeds and radically transforming the way information is shared and communicated, the organizational environment is increasingly complex and fast moving. This swiftly-changing landscape requires graduates to be agile and adaptable in order to survive and thrive, especially as technology and the operating environment demands expeditious communication and decentralized decision making (Mehra et al, 2006). The manifestation of these new expectations are contrary to many top-down leadership structure in that current and future leaders have moved into a leadership structure of inclusion, collaboration, and team orientation (Greenockle, 2010). Higher education must continue to explore innovative models of developing leadership and team dynamics to meet the needs of these future global leaders (Astin & Astin, 2001). Understanding how to communicate and interact effectively with a multitude of personalities is requisite knowledge for successful leadership and teamwork (Adams Becker, et al, 2017; Greenockle, 2010; Varvel et al, 2004). Students grasping the complex and interactive teamwork dynamics in the context of self-awareness, their team(s) role, direct and indirect roles of those around them, and how they all interact together can lead to more successful relationships and a more profitable bottom line for their future organization (Astin & Astin, 2001). Teaching team-based skills in a university exposes the learner to a variety of positive traits, including the ability to: solve problems, manage conflict including negotiation and resolution, think critically, communicate effectively, collaborate, and cooperate to reach shared goals all while demonstrating adept social skills and efficient time management (Greenockle, 2010). Through team-based leadership training, students discover that for teams to communicate effectively, members need to feel secure that they can give feedback and it will be received, especially in high stakes situations. Psychological safety describes the climate of a team where members feel safe to give each other candid feedback to get the job at hand done and facilitate learning and improved performance (Edmondson, Higgins, Singer, & Weiner, 2016).

Although there is a multitude of leadership programs available within a higher-education framework, there are few standardized methods of developing the skillsets necessary to become fluent in team and leadership dynamics (Krauss, Hamid, & Ismail, 2010). This work-in-progress explores the Strength Deployment Inventory©and how it impacts the development of students’ self-awareness and their strengths as leaders in a higher-education setting.

This paper also introduces future work in progress, using a systematic approach and structure to qualitatively measure how students develop the skills necessary to become adept at leadership and group dynamics, and to what extent the Strength Deployment Inventory© fosters that development (Brodie, Fraizer, & Silk, in progress).  Exploring the practical application of this model to facilitate the increase in awareness of self and others in a higher-education environment would add to the literature as well as lend itself to scalability within the post-secondary classroom.

By |2018-08-04T20:07:25+00:00January 3rd, 2018|Higher Education, Leadership|Comments Off on Preparing Future Leaders: Exploring leadership and team development in higher education using the Strength Deployment Inventory©