Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Nevil Speer (Chair), Dr. Cecile Garmon, Dr. Shane Spiller, Dr. Charley Pride

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


A significant leadership challenge exists while leading others without legitimate or formal authority. Leading without legitimate authority may require different and limited leadership skills and competencies, especially when leading peers. This quantitative study analyzed the leader competencies and skills needed for effective peer leadership.
A literature review identified four competencies cited frequently as important: (a) communication; (b) support; (c) mental/hard work ethic; and (d) reflection/feedback. Analysis of an ROTC leadership assessment database provided convergent validity for the literature review while adding one additional competency, physical. The lack of existing instruments measuring peer leadership competencies and skills necessitated the development of an influence survey. The resulting influence survey included a frame of reference scenario, two stem questions and 40 specific peer leadership skill questions. The final survey allowed data collection from 1084 undergraduate students.
A principle component analysis verified validity and identified the best model based on 18 of the 40 questions in the survey. The four components identified included Assist, Reflect, Participate, and Presence based on the thematic nature of the questions comprising the factors. The multiple-regression model of male and female participants for the four peer leadership competencies indicated significant contributions of competencies to the regression model in the same order of importance. An ANOVA of college levels found no significant differences between the four levels.
Multiple regression analysis conducted on each peer leadership competency defined in this study identified the most important peer leadership skills. Analyzing the questions comprising the Participate competency indicated that peers prefer peer leaders who communicate effectively, listen effectively, encourage them, and included them when making decisions. The Assist competency included peers skills that demonstrated a positive attitude, provided assistance in defining goals or making decisions, and made a sincere effort to reach consensus with the peer. The Presence competency focused on the peer leader having a physical presence with the peer. The Reflect competency consisted of peer leader actions that caused the influenced peer to analyze the situation, learn from the situation, and reflect and meditate to better understand the situation.


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