This exploratory study examined the motivation to lead of a random sample of 1,338 undergraduate students to determine the degree to which motivation to lead can predict leadership behaviors. Results suggested that students’ internal self-identity as a leader positively predicted behavior, while their “social normative” motivation to lead (i.e stemming from the groups to which they belong) served as a negative predictor. These effects emerged even when controlling for self-identified leadership skill and confidence in leading. While no gender differences in motivation levels emerged, students identifying as Asian and Asian American reported lower degrees of motivation to lead compared to their peers, indicating a need to more deeply examine the unique pathways to leadership among students with regard to racial identity.
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