Gender identity, inter-team competition and leader self-efficacy developmental trajectories in a multi-institutional leader development program

David Michael Rosch (Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA)
Lisa Kuron (Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)
Robert Reimer (Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia, USA)
Ronald Mickler (John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio, USA)
Daniel Jenkins (Department of Leadership and Organizational Studies, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, USA)

Journal of Leadership Education

ISSN: 1552-9045

Article publication date: 18 March 2024

Issue publication date: 2 April 2024




This study analyzed three years of data from the Collegiate Leadership Competition to investigate potential differences in longitudinal leader self-efficacy growth between students who identify as men and those who identify as women.


Survey design.


Results indicate that women participants enter their competition experience at higher levels of leader self-efficacy than men and that both groups were able to sustain moderate levels of growth measured several months after the end of the competition.


The gap between men and women in their leader self-efficacy did not change over the several months of measurement. Implications for leadership educators are discussed.



Rosch, D.M., Kuron, L., Reimer, R., Mickler, R. and Jenkins, D. (2024), "Gender identity, inter-team competition and leader self-efficacy developmental trajectories in a multi-institutional leader development program", Journal of Leadership Education, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 108-120.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, David Michael Rosch, Lisa Kuron, Robert Reimer, Ronald Mickler and Daniel Jenkins


Published in Journal of Leadership Education. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at


The goal of most leadership education programs within the higher education is to develop students’ capacity to lead. To do so, leadership education programs typically aim to build individuals’ skills and competencies in such areas as communication, cross-cultural awareness, strategic planning and working in teams (Astin & Astin, 2000; Dopson et al., 2019). The operationalization of leadership education programs can vary and include courses, workshops, seminars, retreats, one-on-one or group mentoring/coaching as well as experiential learning. Research examining the effectiveness of these efforts is relatively nascent, though some evidence suggests that the most effective leadership education programs are flexible in design to leverage a variety of formats, center the student experience and help students apply theoretical frameworks into their practice (Reyes et al., 2019). This study focuses on a multi-institutional context and employs a relatively unique pedagogy focused on inter-team competition, where students in teams compete with other teams and are assessed regarding their success in achieving a stated goal as well as in the intra-team processes that they utilized in working toward their goal. Our aim was to help inform leadership educators about the effectiveness of the program, the Collegiate Leadership Competition (the “CLC”), as the structure of the program, while currently unique in employing inter-team competition, reflects many of the best practices listed above.

Evaluating the assessment of leader development interventions

The indisputable thing that we know about leadership interventions is that they cost organizations considerable time and money, yet little systematic and rigorous evidence exists of bringing about intended and sustained effects (Kaiser & Curphy, 2013; Pfeffer, 2015). Expending resources without a predictable return is a real concern, yet the cost of not developing leaders is potentially even higher. The global workforce increasingly has a need for employees who are adept at leading others and coordinating action. Nearly 9 out of 10 positions that college graduates fill in the workforce today involve practicing leadership (Zapier, 2019). Colleges and universities have reason to be invested in preparing graduates who are career ready and can aptly fulfill leadership responsibilities across a wide variety of employment roles. As colleges and universities consider offering and resourcing leadership courses, programs and experiences, they will have to confront the offsets of promoting student leadership capabilities while keeping the cost of education affordable.

Addressing these concerns begins with the careful and informed design of leadership interventions that produce reliable and valid evidence that students are learning, how they are changing and to what extent skills and abilities are practiced and improved. Broadly speaking, measuring development involves treating observations of leader knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (“KSAOs”) as nested within the individual students over time. Like other measures of social or behavioral data, assessing leader development depends, in part, on repeated observations using reliable measures in designs that transcend simple pre-tests and post-test collected only during the time of the intervention (Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992).

Long has evidence suggested that response shift bias occurs in these types of assessment structures (Drennan & Hyde, 2008). One reason for expanding beyond pre-post assessment is that alternative evidence suggests that leader development is not necessarily linear (Wang, Waldman, & Zhang, 2014) or positive (Rosch & Wilson, 2022). To address these methodological concerns, measuring leader development begins by accounting for the initial state of a specified leadership KSAO at the commencement of developmental efforts. Unlike typical corporate or community-based leadership interventions or training that consist of punctuated interventions (e.g. that occur in a single setting or over a relatively short duration), programs housed in education institutions are often several weeks or even semesters-long in duration. Measuring development in these spaces requires special consideration for how to measure specific variables or groups of variables over time. Because leader development is not necessarily linear or positive, it can appear difficult to fully appreciate if and how developmental investments are paying off for individual students and teams over time.

If we simply want to understand the immediate effects produced by an intervention like the CLC, pre- and post-measures that aggregate effects are likely adequate. Studying and modeling leader development within the students, however, should be more involved. Producing suitable evidence of developmental change requires intentionality in design that is tailored to individual differences, compositional and compilation effects and contextual influences. In response to calls for measurement strategies that serve as better approximations of the experiences of college students (Dugan, 2011), this paper seeks to contribute to the literature by illustrating the effects of longitudinally assessing within student effects during and long after the CLC intervention. Our goal was to apply longitudinal design to a program based on the presumption that inter-team competition could be a motivating factor to accelerate growth and learning.

Competition as pedagogy

Somewhat surprisingly, given a generation of research that exists (e.g. Nohria, Groysberg, & Lee, 2008) that examines the role of competition in spurring learning and motivation, placing students in team-based competitive environments has barely been mentioned as a potentially productive pedagogical tool in leadership education programs (Rosch & Headrick, 2020). Within higher education, scholars have posited that competition can serve as a spur for personal growth (Sampson, 1988) and have a positive effect on the individual’s self-esteem and other characteristics (Ryckman, Hammer, Kaczor, & Gold, 1996). Indeed, motivation scholars have asserted that the drive for motivation is built into our brain (Nohria et al., 2008) and manifests itself through the drive to acquire, the drive to bond, the drive to comprehend, and the drive to defend, all of which are rewarded through inter-group competition. Nohria and her team (2008) established that engaging all four bonds brings about an increase in motivation. Indeed, in a recent comprehensive study, its authors summarized their findings by stating that competition strengthens learning and motivation (Cagiltay, Ozcelik, & Ozcelik, 2015). Likewise, Ambrose et al. (2010) found in their investigation of student business case competitions, that, “When students find positive value in a learning goal or activity, expect to achieve a desired learning outcome, and perceive support from their environment, they are likely to be strongly motivated to learn” (p. 5). Similarly, tournament-based competitions have also shown gains in academic performance (Van Nuland, Roach, Wilson, & Belliveau, 2015). In a study of players from learning games (N = 173), the level of engagement in the game revealed a positive effect on the learning experiences of students (Hamari et al., 2016). This same study demonstrated the positive results of incorporating a sense of challenge, defined as a concept or construct that exceeded the individual level of skill in a certain area and suggested that such challenge serves as a strong predictor for increased learning outcomes.

While there is a considerable dearth of research on competition as pedagogy in leadership learning, management education scholars (e.g. Ambrose et al., 2010) have explored the benefits of case competitions on student learning. For example, Gamble and Jelley (2014) highlight student benefits derived from case competitions including memorable experiences, peer bonding and social capital development. Moreover, Sachau and Naas (2019) assert that even if participation in case competitions does not last long enough for students to master job-related skills, participation can help them understand the importance of these skills and direct their attention toward personal strengths and weaknesses. Corner et al. (2006) found that instructors who guided students in case competitions functioned more so as coaches given the competitive nature of the experience. In these environments, students and instructors became co-participants in learning, focusing on aspects of coaching, giving feedback and cheering on their teammates. Moreover, they (i.e. Corner et al., 2006) argue that this process facilitates students “learning how to learn” or “meta-learning,” described by Schwarz (1985) as students learning about the process of learning. Correspondingly, the case competition course examined by Corner et al. (2006) was structured around the competition so that feedback was directed toward improving teams’ analyses of the competition case, their engagement with the structure and process of the course and their mastery of strategy theory. Theoretically, through competition, educators motivate students to do more than simply acquire knowledge (which may be outdated in the workplace in 3–5 years) to also develop the skill of learning how to learn (providing a skill to stay current in a job even after specific knowledge is outdated) (Argyris, 1976, 1980). Despite these studies, which seem to indicate the strong potential for more comprehensively including competitive environments within leadership education, other fields of research have suggested this narrative might not be universal, specifically related to differences between men and women and their potential for emerging as leaders. In addition, studies that focus on leader development in the context of inter-team competition would be well-served to also attend to past scholarship that indicate moderate to strong gender differences (e.g. Eagly & Karau, 1991; Badura, Grijalva, Newman, Yan, & Jeon, 2018).

Gender differences in leadership emergence, behavior and effectiveness

For several decades, research has explored leadership emergence, behaviors and effectiveness through the lens of gender differences. Overall, research is inconclusive in that some studies find significant differences, some do not, and others explore moderators that might influence differences that do exist. For example, in their seminal meta-analysis, Eagly and Karau (1991) found that men were more likely to emerge as leaders than women but attributed much of these differences to environmental factors such as the type of task. Ritter and Yoder (2004) found that in mixed-sex dyads, men were more likely to emerge as leaders, even when paired with a dominant female. Interestingly, in Ritter and Yoder’s study (2004), dominant females were likely to appoint their male counterpart as the formal leader, even though they demonstrated leadership through interventions throughout the task. Taken together, Rotter and Yoder concluded that leadership emergence is simultaneously influenced by individuals’ dominance, gender and task type. More recently, Badura et al. (2018) explored whether the gender gap in leadership emergence had changed over time. In examining studies between 1955 and 2015, they found that while men continue to emerge as leaders more often than women, the gap has decreased. Relatedly, Netchaeva et al. (2022) found that men were more likely to aspire to leadership positions than women, a gap that appeared widest in young adults in post-secondary education.

Evidence also supports gender differences in leadership behaviors. Overall, women in leadership positions tend to be more communal and transformational than the males, who tend to be more agentic, transactional and laissez-faire (Badura et al., 2018; Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, & van Engen, 2003). Some evidence suggests that differences in leadership behaviors influence leadership emergence, such that agentic or “masculine” behaviors are more strongly associated with leadership emergence than communal or “feminine” behaviors (Badura et al., 2018; Eagly & Johnson, 1990; Eagly & Karau, 2002).

Related to leadership effectiveness, meta-analytic evidence seems to suggest that the impact of gender is more complicated. While self-ratings of effectiveness tend to be higher for males than females, ratings by others suggest effectiveness tends to be higher amongst female leaders than males (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker, & Woehr, 2014). Moreover, the context of the organization is important; in organizations that are male dominated, there is a tendency for males to be perceived as more effective leaders, consistent with previous research (Eagly, Karau, & Makhijani, 1995). Taken together, a large body of research exists that suggests gender is an important factor in how leadership is perceived and operationalized. That said, we also recognize emerging perspectives that argue for scholars to move beyond the gender binary (e.g. Ashcraft & Muhr, 2018; Muhr & Sullivan, 2013; Rumens, 2016). Doing so is critical to ensure that transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse perspectives are not silenced and because skilled leaders are fluid in their practice; sometimes relying on “feminine” competencies and other times relying on “masculine” competencies (Muhr & Sullivan, 2013).

Gender differences in leader self-efficacy

Our study specifically focuses on leader self-efficacy. Broadly, leader self-efficacy can be defined as “one’s self-perceived capability to perform the cognitive and behavioral functions necessary to regulate group process in relation to goal achievement” (McCormick, 2001, p. 30). Research has consistently found that women have lower leader self-efficacy than men (e.g. Eagly et al., 1995; Schaubroeck, Lam, & Cha, 2007; Vecchio & Boatwright, 2002). Indeed, in a meta-analysis, Eagly et al. (2003) found that across a range of leadership tasks, men reported higher levels of leader self-efficacy than women. Interestingly, in a sample of 1,187 managers from 74 countries, Javidan, Bullough, and Dibble (2016) found that women reported higher levels of self-efficacy with respect to more collaborative and relationship building dimensions of global leadership (i.e. intercultural empathy, diplomacy and passion for diversity), whereas men consistently reported higher levels of self-efficacy in terms of contextual knowledge and exposure (i.e. global business savvy, cosmopolitan outlook and interpersonal impact). This research suggests that gender differences may be explained, in part, by gender-role stereotypes. More specifically, we are socialized to view leading as masculine (see, for example, the great man theories of leadership) rather than feminine. Relatedly, such socialization and stereotypes could lead to gender-based discrimination in the workforce, which in turn, could lead to decreased levels of leader self-efficacy in women (Eagly & Karau, 2002).

Employing a lens of the social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1999), stereotypes might influence self-efficacy through both vicarious experiences and social persuasion. In terms of vicarious experiences – that is, observing similar others succeed in a task – the historical underrepresentation of women in leadership roles may impact one’s leader self-efficacy. Such underrepresentation may also serve to impact self-efficacy via social persuasion; that is, the direct and indirect messages that individuals receive from others about their capacity to lead. Critically, mastery experiences (i.e. actual experiences on a task) have the greatest impact on one’s self-efficacy (Bandura, 1999), suggesting that training interventions aimed at providing women with behavioral experience leading (such as would take place in a competitive environment focused on behavioral results) could serve as a critical intervention. Indeed, a growing body of research shows that women who participate in leader development programs report higher levels of leadership self-efficacy upon program completion (e.g. Ibarra, 1992; Isaac et al., 2012; Momsen & Carlson, 2013). As some research suggests that the relationship between leader self-efficacy and effectiveness is stronger for women than it is for men (Schaubroeck et al., 2007), examining the impact of potential interventions is a critical area for research.

Study objectives

The main objective of our research study was to analyze a multi-year international dataset collected from participants of the CLC, which embeds inter-team competition into its central pedagogical principles. Our overall goal was to investigate differences that might emerge in trajectories of leader efficacy development between men and women who participate over time. Further, if differences did emerge, we sought to analyze the shape and significance of those differences. Our study was designed to help inform leadership educators on the practical costs or benefits of employing inter-team competition in their own instructional efforts.


Population. The population from which we drew our central sample of participants was of those students who engaged in a semester-long process embedded within a team in the CLC at some point during the 2018–2019, 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 academic years. The competition was canceled in 2019–2020 due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the three years in which a competition was held, a total of 53 post-secondary institutions across the United States of America and Canada participated, most of them multiple times, with each sending a group of six students to their respective competition. These institutions were diverse regarding Carnegie classification status, size, location, control and academic focus. In the 2018–2019 academic year, regional in-person competitions took place, where several geographically related institutions participated. In 2020–2021 and 2021–2022, in part due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all institutions participated each year in a single, virtual competition that took place synchronously online. While these situational factors differed across years, the unifying structure was for a group of six students to practice for several months to then compete against other teams of students over the course of several hours, being judged on the outcomes of their efforts as well as the processes they utilized in achieving those outcomes based on CLC curriculum goals.

Data Collection and Instrumentation. The “season” of preparation and ultimate competition in which activity within the CLC took place began each academic year in January with teams forming, while weekly instruction and practices took place from initial forming through early April. The process culminated with a mid-April competition that encompassed each participating team. All students from each institution were invited to complete a research survey at beginning of their team’s forming process, again just prior to their day the competition and finally, several months later at the end of the following summer, presumably when the emotional impact of the competition would have been reduced and therefore, when there might be less measurement errors (Rosch & Schwartz, 2009).

The survey at the beginning of the CLC experience early in the Spring semester included demographic items inviting participants, in part, to share their gender identity. In addition, it included a measure of leader self-efficacy adapted from the Ready-Willing-Able measure of overall leader capacity (Rosch & Collins, 2020), which has been employed in past research involving student leadership educational initiatives. CLC participants were again invited to complete the same measure of leader self-efficacy on the day of their competition in April, and then again were invited to complete a final measure of their leader self-efficacy at least four months later. All surveys were completed online using Qualtrics web software.

Study Sample. The sample for this study consisted of the 104 CLC participants who completed surveys at all three collection points during one of the three years of data collection. The overall research objective was to understand long-term developmental leader capacity growth, so the research team felt it was important to ensure that post-program data were included in our analysis. Doing so decreased the size of the viable sample considerably given the volunteer nature of completing a research measure long after participation in the program for which the measure was relevant had ended.

Of the 104 participants, 54 identified as a woman while 49 identified as a man. There was one qualifying participant who identified as transgender. While it would have significantly informed the depth of this study to include participants who did not identify as cisgender, it would have neither ethical to include a single person’s results not statistically appropriate. Therefore, our subsequent focus was only on differences between women and men. Over 95% of the sample identified as an undergraduate student, with spread across all four class years. Second-year students represented the largest subgroup at 29%. Approximately 75% of the sample identified as White or Caucasian, 8% as Asian or Asian-American, 6% as Black or African-American; 4% as Hispanic or Latinx and 4% as multi-racial. Approximately 72% of participants identified as having participated in some type of leadership education prior to the CLC.

Data Analysis. Our goal was to investigate differences that might emerge in the leader self-efficacy developmental trajectories of CLC participants over the course of their participation and several months afterward. To do so, we conducted two repeated measures analyses of variance investigating within-subjects effects (i.e. leader self-efficacy change). The first included the entire sample, while the second separated men and women. The goals for doing so were to investigate if a statistically significant difference between the two emerged, and if so, to investigate both the size of the effect of the difference and to conduct post-hoc t-tests to determine if trajectory changes occurred over the course of the competition timeline, after the competition ended or both.


Our first goal was simply to calculate the leader self-efficacy scores of men and women within our sample who had completed all three phases of data collection. These results are displayed in Table 1. Prior to calculating inferential statistics, men appeared to enter the CLC experience with lower levels of leader self-efficacy, while both men and women’s scores increased during the month preparing for their competition. The elevated scores seemed to sustain several months after the conclusion of the program.

To confirm these findings, we conducted two repeated measures analyses of variance – the first without regard for gender identity and the second while investigating the variable as a between-subjects effect. The first analysis confirmed that CLC participants’ scores sustained a within-subjects effect, indicating that scores did statistically shift over time (F = 9.26; p = 0.001) and to a moderate effect (partial eta-squared = 0.32). Post-hoc t-tests suggested that statistically significant differences across data collection phases occurred between the “Pre-experience” phase and the “At-experience” phase. This result suggests that leader self-efficacy scores across the sample increased over time and were sustained long after the competition concluded.

The second analysis also emerged as statistically significant (F = 8.36; p = 0.001), with a similar effect size (partial eta-squared = 0.31). A within-subject test indicated statistically significant score shifts over time (F = 10.46, p < 0.001) with a similar effect size (partial eta-squared = 0.22). Between-subjects effects suggested large differences between men and women (F = 3372.26; p < 0.001; partial eta-squared = 0.98). Post-hoc tests between data collection phases indicated similar results compared to the first analysis: scores increased during the program’s activities and remained elevated over time. Figure 1 shows the trajectory of participants’ leader self-efficacy scores over time separated by gender identity. Taken as a whole, these collective results suggest that while score differences were large between men and women, much of the variance were due to incoming score differences, where women entered reporting increased leader self-efficacy. The trajectory of development between men and women appears quite similar.


Our study was focused on examining a program designed for leader development, the CLC, which employed inter-team competition as a central pedagogy. Specifically, we investigated whether men and women displayed differences in the longitudinal trajectory of their development of their leader self-efficacy. The results of our study imply that both men and women reported increases in their leader self-efficacy from the beginning of the program’s preparation time through the day of their competition, and that these gains were sustained several months later. No statistically significant differences emerged between these trajectories; however, students who identified as a woman expressed higher scores across every period of data collection. These findings imply that, as a result of participating over two months in the developmental curriculum to prepare for the CLC and its resulting competition, both women and men expressed similar and real sustained gains in their leader self-efficacy. However, participating in the CLC seemed to do little to reduce the gap in capacity levels that existed prior to participation, as women entered with higher levels of leader self-efficacy than men.

Implications related to gender identity

The summary results of our study imply that the CLC is effective at building leader self-efficacy; across all participants, leadership self-efficacy increased significantly between the first and second phases of data collection. Moreover, the growth in leadership self-efficacy was sustained over time. This suggests that inter-team competitions could be a valuable pedagogical and leader development tool and is consistent with social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1999). Moreover, in terms of the trajectory of leadership self-efficacy growth, our results are consistent with prior literature that suggest leader development is not necessarily linear (Wang et al., 2014), providing more support that leader development is a complex process. Such complexity must be recognized by facilitators, participants and in program evaluation efforts; pre- and post-tests may be insufficient in charting the growth and maintenance of within-subject changes over time. Facilitators and participants may need to exercise time and patience in their leader development expectations and efforts.

Most significantly, our results imply that women participants in the CLC program seem to develop their leadership self-efficacy in ways similar to men, which calls into question past research that inter-team competitions benefit often men more than women (e.g., Eagly et al., 1995). Indeed, our results show that the growth in leader self-efficacy between the beginning of CLC preparation and the at-experience assessment suggests similarity between genders, as are the sustained effects of the CLC on leader self-efficacy. Similarly, in contrast to the body of research that suggests men tend to have higher levels of leader self-efficacy than women (Schaubroeck et al., 2007; Vecchio & Boatwright, 2002), our study found the opposite. At every stage of our data collection, women reported higher levels of self-efficacy than men.

It is certainly too early to suggest that we have experienced a profound “shift” in how gender identity might be related to leader self-efficacy, yes these results might represent the need for further contemporary scrutiny, especially given that self-efficacy exerts a direct influence on individuals’ willingness to pursue challenging tasks as well as their subsequent motivation and determination on said tasks, and in turn, performance (Bandura, 1999). Still our results demonstrate that the pre-existing gap between CLC participants who identity as men or women persists over time. In other words, though the CLC seems to be an effective intervention in terms of boosting leader self-efficacy, it does not appear to decrease the gap between men and women. That the leader self-efficacy of men was consistently lower than those scores measured in women over the course of the study warrants continued investigation.

Earlier, we noted that gender-based stereotypes might influence self-efficacy through both vicarious experiences (e.g. historical representation of an identity group) and social persuasion (e.g. direct and indirect messages that individuals receive). On this basis, an important implication for research on gender identity and on leader development is the need to systematically document and explore the development trajectories of gender-diverse leaders as well as to take a nuanced perspective on how gendered expectations influence the ways in which leadership is practiced and perceived by all people. As Rumens (2016) argues, the flexibility inherent in queer theory may be what “encourages all of us to break out of normalized, restrictive categories of sexuality and gender” (p. 47). Seeking out and amplifying stories of leaders beyond the gender binary is needed to ensure all people are represented within the literature, and receive messages that they too, can lead and influence others on a shared common vision.

Implications related to competition as leadership pedagogy

Past research suggests that competition culture harms organizations and the men and women within them (Berdahl Alonso, 2018; Cortina & Areguin, 2021). These past results suggest that left unchecked, the workplace and classroom can become an arena in which overused and unhelpful masculine characteristics can bring about individual and collective harm. Indeed, some stereotypical masculine traits related to competition have been tied to negative outcomes including ethical scandals and sexual harassment (Langevoort, 2002; Dowd, 2017). Our findings suggest that there is yet reason to be optimistic about the role that intra-team competition could have in developing leadership capacity in the mixed-gender settings. Our results suggest that in the right measure and under suitable conditions, such as under the watchful eye and guidance of instructors and within the bounds of prudently created and practiced team norms that competition can play an important role in student leader development. Promoting inter-team competition in environments that encourage respect, unity and trust reveals a promising pedagogical tool. When the right conditions are met, competition appears effective for promoting engagement and achievement that brings about proximal leader development indicators in both men and women.

Suggestions for future research

Different types of competitions might attract different types of students. For example, comparing intra-team competitions to inter-team competitions (i.e. competing within teams or across teams), might be a fruitful path for future research on developmental interventions. Furthermore, we strongly suggest that need to investigate the role of gender identity in leader development and education beyond cisgender bounds. Additional suggestions for future research could involve the extent that program-specific curriculum and instructor variables might mitigate gender identity differences or otherwise affect developmental trajectories.

We also suggest broadening the scope of these identity-based investigations beyond gender specifically. Employing additional elements of social identity and social capital theories can help with the design of intra-team and inter-team groups to maximize the experiences and outcomes of the participants. Specifically, forming a team from a higher educational institution or even an academic department or major can generate a different amount of sense of belonging among the participants. Alternatively, forming a team from several institutions, academic departments and/or similar majors might yield different outcomes for the participants.

Lastly, we recognize that several complex intra-individual change-oriented analytics techniques are available compared to our use of repeated-measure ANOVA analysis. Future studies that are able to collect a larger sample size than we were able to would be well-served by utilizing more common multilevel modeling. Such analyses may yield more insightful results.


Our goal was to investigate the degree to which an inter-team competitive environment might differentially influence the developmental trajectories of men and women over the course of a semester-long leader development intervention involving dozens of postsecondary institutions. Our results implied that both men and women increased in their report of leader self-efficacy that the increase was sustained over time long after the intervention ended, but that the incoming gap between men and women did not decrease. These results suggested that inter-team competition modeled similarly to the Collegiate Leadership Competition might be a helpful leader development intervention for both men and women and should be explored further. However, the results also highlighted the ongoing persistent differences between men and women regarding their perceptions of their leader self-efficacy, as seen in many past studies.


Trajectories of leader self-efficacy development between women and men

Figure 1

Trajectories of leader self-efficacy development between women and men

Leader self-efficacy scores of women and men by data collection phase

Gender identityPre-experience µ (SD)At-experience µ (SD)Post-experience µ (SD)
Women5.62 (0.70)5.90 (0.81)5.91 (0.65)
Men5.20 (0.49)5.60 (0.59)5.56 (0.16)

Source(s): Created by authors


Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M.K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. Jossey-Bass.

Argyris, C. (1976). Theories of action that inhibit individual learning. American Psychologist, 31(9), 638654. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.31.9.638.

Argyris, C. (1980). Education for leadership or skill development?. Harvard Business Review, 58(5), 167172.

Ashcraft, K. L., & Muhr, S. L. (2018). Coding military command as a promiscuous practice? Unsettling the gender binaries of leadership metaphors. Human Relations, 71(2), 206228. doi: 10.1177/0018726717709080.

Astin, A. W., & Astin, H. S. (2000). Leadership reconsidered: Engaging higher education in social change. Battle Creek, MI: W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Available from:

Badura, K. L., Grijalva, E., Newman, D. A., Yan, T. T., & Jeon, G. (2018). Gender and leadership emergence: A meta‐analysis and explanatory model. Personnel Psychology, 71(3), 335367. doi: 10.1111/peps.12266.

Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of personality. In L. A. Pervin, & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 154196). Guilford Press.

Berdahl Alonso, J. (2018). A culture of competition: Examining the relationships between competition and culture in organizations. Academy of Management Annals, 12(1), 119146. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-30156-8_8.

Bryk, A. S., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1992). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Sage Publications.

Cagiltay, K., Ozcelik, E., & Ozcelik, N. S. (2015). The effect of competition on learning in games. Computers & Education, 87, 3541. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2015.04.001.

Corner, P. D., Bowden, S., Clark, D., Collins, E., Gibb, J., Kearins, K., & Pavlovich, K. (2006). Grounded learning from a strategy case competition. Journal of Management Education, 30(3), 431454. doi: 10.1177/1052562905277789.

Cortina, L. M., & Areguin, M. A. (2021). Putting people down and pushing them out: Sexual harassment in the workplace. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 8(1), 285309. doi: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-012420-055606.

Dopson, S., Ferlie, E., McGivern, G., Fischer, M. D., Mitra, M., Ledger, J., & Behrens, S. (2019). Leadership development in higher education: A literature review and implications for programme redesign. Higher Education Quarterly, 73(2), 218234. doi: 10.1111/hequ.12194.

Dowd, M. (2017). She’s 26, and brought down Uber’s C.E.O. What’s next?. The New York Times, Published October 21, 2017. Available from:

Drennan, J., & Hyde, A. (2008). Controlling response shift bias: The use of the retrospective pre‐test design in the evaluation of a master's programme. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(6), 699709. doi: 10.1080/02602930701773026.

Dugan, J. P. (2011). Research on college student development. In S. R. Komives, J. P. Dugan, Dugan, J. E., & Owen (Eds.), The Handbook for Student Leadership Development (pp. 5984). John Wiley & Sons.

Eagly, A. H., & Johnson, B. T. (1990). Gender and leadership style: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 108(2), 233256. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.108.2.233.

Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (1991). Gender and the emergence of leaders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(5), 685710. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.60.5.685.

Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109(3), 573598. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.109.3.573.

Eagly, A. H., Karau, S. J., & Makhijani, M. G. (1995). Gender and the evaluation of leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 117(1), 125145. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.1.125.

Eagly, J. S., Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C., & van Engen, M. L. (2003). Transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles: A meta-analysis comparing women and men. Psychological Bulletin, 129(4), 569591. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.4.569.

Gamble, J. E., & Jelley, R. B. (2014). The case for competition: Learning about evidence-based management through case competition. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 13(3), 433445. doi: 10.5465/amle.2013.0187.

Hamari, J., Shernoff, D. J., Rowe, E., Coller, B., Asbell-Clarke, J., & Edwards, T. (2016). Challenging games help students learn: An empirical study on engagement, flow and immersion in game-based learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 170179. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.045.

Ibarra, H. (1992). Homophily and differential returns: Sex differences in network structure and access in an advertising firm. Administrative Sciences Quarterly, 37(3), 422447. doi: 10.2307/2393451.

Isaac, C., Kaatz, A., Lee, B., & Carnes, M. (2012). An educational intervention designed to increase women's leadership self-efficacy. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 11(3), 307322. doi: 10.1187/cbe.12-02-0022.

Javidan, M., Bullough, A., & Dibble, R. (2016). Mind the gap: Gender differences in global leadership self-efficacies. Academy of Management Perspectives, 30(1), 5973. doi: 10.5465/amp.2015.0035.

Kaiser, R. B., & Curphy, G. J. (2013). Leadership development: The failure of an industry and the opportunity for consulting psychologists. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 65(2), 120128. doi: 10.1037/a0035460.

Langevoort, D. C. (2002). The organizational psychology of hyper-competition: Corporate irresponsibility and the lessons of enron. George Washington Law Review, 70(6), 968975.

McCormick, M. J. (2001). Self-efficacy and leadership effectiveness: Applying social cognitive theory to leadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 8(1), 2233. doi: 10.1177/107179190100800102.

Momsen, K. M., & Carlson, J. A. (2013). To know I can might be enough: Women's self-efficacy and their identified leadership values. Advancing Women in Leadership Journal, 33, 122131. doi: 10.21423/awlj-v33.a110.

Muhr, S. L., & Sullivan, K. R. (2013). None so queer as folk: Gendered expectations and transgressive bodies in leadership. Leadership, 9(3), 416435. doi: 10.1177/1742715013485857.

Netchaeva, E., Sheppard, L. D., & Balushkina, T. (2022). A meta-analytic review of the gender difference in leadership aspirations. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 137, 10371044. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2022.103744.

Nohria, N., Groysberg, B., & Lee, L. -E. (2008). Employee motivation: A powerful new model. Harvard Business Review, 86(7/8), 7884. doi: 10.51976/gla.prastuti.v1i1.111203.

Paustian-Underdahl, S. C., Walker, L. S., & Woehr, D. J. (2014). Gender and perceptions of leadership effectiveness: A meta-analysis of contextual moderators. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(6), 11291145. doi: 10.1037/a0036751.

Pfeffer, J. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice. In J. A. B. M. Kuipers, L. Groeneveld, & R. L. W. Koopman (Eds.), Working Paper Series: Leadership: What's in it for schools? (pp. 722). Delft: TNO.

Reyes, D. L., Dinh J., Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Joseph, D. L., & Salas, E. (2019). The state of higher education leadership development program evaluation: A meta-analysis, critical review, and recommendations. The Leadership Quarterly, 30(5), 1-15. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2019.101311.

Ritter, B. A., & Yoder, J. D. (2004). Gender differences in leader emergence persist even for dominant women: An updated confirmation of role congruity theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28(3), 187193. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2004.00135.x.

Rosch, D. M., & Collins, J. D. (2020). Validating the ready, willing, and able scale of student leadership capacity. Journal of Leadership Education, 19(1), 8498. doi: 10.12806/V19/I1/R3.

Rosch, J., & Headrick, L. A. (2020). Using business case competitions as a pedagogical tool to develop critical thinking, teamwork, and communication skills. Journal of Management Education, 44(4), 491517. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2020.104542.

Rosch, D. M., & Schwartz, L. M. (2009). Potential issues and pitfalls in outcomes assessment in leadership education. Journal of Leadership Education, 8(1), 177194. doi: 10.12806/v8/i1/ib5.

Rosch, D. M., & Wilson, K. D. (2022). Addressing the known unknowns in student leader development. In D. M. Rosch, & L. J. Hastings (Eds.), New Directions for Student Leadership: No. 175. Research and assessment methods for leadership development in practice (pp. 919). Wiley. doi: 10.1002/yd.20515.

Rumens, N. (2016). Towards queering the business school: A research agenda for advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans perspectives and issues. Gender, Work & Organization, 23(1), 3651. doi: 10.1111/gwao.12077.

Ryckman, R. M., Hammer, M. R., Kaczor, L. M., & Gold, J. A. (1996). Construction and validation of a hypercompetitive attitudes scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 67(1), 101113. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa5503&4_19.

Sachau, D. A., & Naas, K. E. (2019). The consulting challenge: A case competition. Journal of Management Education, 34(4), 605631. doi: 10.1177/1052562909358556.

Sampson, E. E. (1988). The challenge of personal growth. In E.E. Sampson, L.C. Conger, & J.F. Wiener (Eds.), Beyond learned helplessness: Toward principles of intervention (pp. 4356). Sage Publications.

Schaubroeck, J., Lam, S. S., & Cha, S. E. (2007). Embracing transformational leadership: Team values and the impact of leader behavior on team performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 10201030. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.4.1020.

Schwarz, N. (1985). Metacognitive experiences in problem-solving. Cognitive development In J. H. Flavell, & E. M. Markman (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 759795). John Wiley & Sons.

Van Nuland, S. E., Roach, V. A., Wilson, T. D., & Belliveau, D. J. (2015). Head to head: The role of academic competition in undergraduate anatomical education. Anatomical Sciences Education, 8(5), 404412. doi: 10.1002/ase.1498.

Vecchio, R. P., and Boatwright, K. J. (2002). Preferences for idealized styles of supervision. The Leadership Quarterly, 13(4), 327342. doi: 10.1016/s1048-9843(02)00118-2.

Wang, D., Waldman, D. A., & Zhang, Z. (2014). A meta-analysis of shared leadership and team effectiveness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(2), 181198. doi: 10.1037/a0034531.

Zapier (2019). The work resolutions report. Available from:

Corresponding author

David Michael Rosch can be contacted at:

Related articles