The perceptions of African American community college presidents concerning their leadership styles and use of power

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Ates, Clarence Edward

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This study examined the perceptions of African American community college presidents concerning their leadership styles and the use of power. The major objective of this study was to investigate how African American community college presidents characterized themselves regarding these two issues. Two instruments were used to collect data. First, the Leader Effectiveness Adaptability Description (LEAD)-Self was used to investigate participants’ perceptions relating to leadership styles. Second, the Power Perception Profile (PPP) Perception of Self was used to explore participants’ perceptions of their use of power. Both instruments were developed by the Center for Leadership Studies, Escondido, California. At the time of this study there were approximately 61 African American community college presidents. All were asked to become a participant in this research project; however, only 39 individuals (63.9 %) chose to participate. Participants were identified from the Directory of African American Chief Executive Officers published by the President’s Roundtable, an affiliate of the National Council on Black American Affairs. Data collected from the LEAD-Self instrument indicated that more than 50% of the African American presidents’ primary leadership style was “Selling.” That is, they tended to influence the actions of their followers by using behaviors that explain, persuade, and clarify. Their secondary leadership style was “Participating.” Leaders utilizing this style tended to integrate behavior patterns that promoted collaboration, facilitation, and support. Data collected from the PPP-Self indicated that subjects perceived themselves to be using Expert Power (relevant education, experience, and expertise) and Information Power (perceived access to or possession of useful information) to influence followers. The data also indicated that subjects perceived that other individuals in similar positions used Expert and Informational Power to a lesser degree. Data collected from this study revealed little to no significant relationships between selected demographic characteristics and subjects’ perceptions of leadership and power. Demographic data yielded no new information and mirrored data produced by other researchers (Vaughan & Wiesman, 1998; McFarlin, et al., 1999).