“Drive on”: The relationship between psychological variables and effective squad leadership.


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“Drive on”: The relationship between psychological variables and effective squad leadership. By Gilson, Todd A.; Dix, Melissa A.; Lochbaum, Marc Military Psychology, Vol 29(1), Jan 2017, 58-67. Abstract The U.S. Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) conducts systematic assessments of cadets’ leadership abilities during field training exercises (FTX) to assess their leadership abilities. While cadets in ROTC programs learn specific tactical operation procedures to augment FTX performances, much less is known about the relationship between psychological variables and squad leadership performance. To this end, 220 cadets completed self-efficacy, psychological flexibility, and grit questionnaires, which were then compared to FTX performance scores. Results underscored that only self-efficacy was significantly related to cadets’ squad leadership ability. Furthermore, prior service in the U.S. Army had no effect on the performance score one attained, highlighting an interesting paradox. Therefore, while self-efficacy can be cultivated through prior experiences, it seems more prudent to educate ROTC cadets on how to apply psychological skills to bolster self-efficacy in preparation for upcoming challenging leadership experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)


Todd Gilson serves as the Director for University Honors at Northern Illinois University. In this role, Todd oversees an Honors Program with over 1,000 students from all six undergraduate colleges at NIU. Todd's line of research focuses on applying the core sport psychology principles of self-efficacy and leadership development to NCAA collegiate athletes and US Army ROTC cadets, which has resulted in over 30 peer-reviewed publications in such outlets as: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, Military Psychology, and Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Professionally, Todd also serves as the Secretary-Treasurer for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).


Twitter: @ToddAGilson


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