The present study elucidates developmental roots of leadership motivation by investigating how motivation from childhood through adolescence is linked to motivation to lead in adulthood. Academic intrinsic motivation the pleasure inherent in an activity for its own sake with regard to school learning provided the construct that was assessed from childhood through adolescence and motivation to lead comprising three aspects (affective identity noncalculative and social normative) was assessed during adulthood. The Fullerton Longitudinal Study (FLS) provided the data. Using structural equation modeling results showed considerable and significant continuity between academic intrinsic motivation and as predicted affective identity and noncalculative motivation to lead indicating that adults with a greater enjoyment of leadership per se and who are motivated to lead without regard to external consequences were significantly more intrinsically motivated from childhood through adolescence. On the other hand also as predicted academic intrinsic motivation was not significantly related to the social normative aspect of motivation to lead indicating that those who are motivated to lead out of a sense of social duty were not more intrinsically motivated during their childhood years. Further IQ played no direct role in motivation to lead. Implications for developing motivation in leaders are advanced.
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