Kansas State University


The Loop

Staley School Faculty Strengthen Communities Through Research

“Leadership for what?” This is a question that both faculty and students alike seek to answer when driving the efforts to advance and make progress on challenges. Many of the faculty within the Staley School have approached this question through the lens of leadership research.

“To meet the mission of the Staley School, we must not only provide the exceptional learning experiences we offer our undergraduates – but we must also invest ourselves in contributing research that builds the field,” Mary Tolar said. “We are committed to improving the practice and teaching of leadership – our communities and our world need and deserve the absolute best of our faculty, students, and alumni.”

Andy Wefald, Kerry Priest, Brandon Kliewer, and Tim Steffensmeier are currently conducting original research that is helping to strengthen communities and increase leadership capacity of individuals here at Kansas State, in the Manhattan community, and in other corners of the world.

Andy Wefald

Andy’s wheelhouse is quantitative research. Using his methodological abilities, he is engaged in coaching readiness research project in collaboration with Brandon Kliewer and Marcia Hornung. Andy, Brandon, and Marcia are working with the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows program and are developing a coaching readiness survey. This research will give insight into the effectiveness of leadership coaching.

“Having a coaching readiness survey would help us with all of the coaching that we do. We do a lot of coaching in our classes and amongst one another. We are trying to instill a coach-like culture,” said Andy.

Andy is also collaborating with Chance Lee to research iLead projects that LEAD 405 students carry out in their senior capstone course. Using qualitative research methods, Chance and Andy will identify gaps in leadership education from students’ four-year experience and what they need to move forward in their leadership development.

Kerry Priest

Kerry’s research agenda explores leadership development and community-engaged teaching and learning in higher education. As she researches the intersection of these sectors, she aims to expand the framework of leadership to forward  social justice and social change.

Kerry has published five book chapters and 13 articles in refereed journals. She has shared her research findings at regional, national, and international conferences, including conferences in Canada, Spain, and Belgium.

Her community-engaged scholarship experiences and agenda have and will support the newly formed interdisciplinary Leadership Communication doctoral program, which will launch in the fall of 2018.

Brandon Kliewer

Brandon is working in partnership with Beth Wanjiku Ndirangu, a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow. The two are engaged in a project that is tied to the U.S. State Department Reciprocal Exchange Award, allowing them to conduct original research around cross-cultural leadership coaching. Brandon and Beth will be presenting a draft of their findings at the International Association for Leadership Conference in Pretoria, South Africa this May.

Brandon is the lead researcher and coach for the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition Leadership Coaching Program. He is studying how leadership coaching can support leadership action under circumstances of uncertainty. He is exploring how the coaching process can help participants to develop the skills needed to make more complex interpretations of systems.

“I am proud to be part of the Staley School, which is committed to advancing community-engaged scholarship. One of the ways that I experience that commitment is by supporting faculty doing research that supports real-world challenges and progress. It’s exciting to be a part of an organization and academic unit that values new knowledge creation in the context of community challenges,” said Brandon.

Tim Steffensmeier

In August 2017, the Kansas Leadership Center partnered with the Staley School, announcing the creation of a long-term research initiative. Tim is the director of the venture, which aims to research leadership development programs and the impact of people who are exercising leadership in organizations, communities, and in larger civic spaces. The research findings will establish credibility and improve methodologies and concepts that are used to carry out leadership initiatives. The long-term research initiative will be publicly announced at the Activate  Conference for Leadership Developers, June 21-23, 2018 in Wichita, Kansas.

Tim is energized by the positive response of the initiative and learning that there are similar efforts and leadership development programming in other parts of the world; some of which are even directly connected to the Staley School. “We are making connections with all of those places to hopefully join together and collaborate on a more global research agenda. We want to make Kansas communities healthier, and we want K-State to be the best place to get undergrad or graduate education. We are trying to make the practice and teaching of leadership better and stronger at the Staley School, the Kansas Leadership Center, and across Kansas,” said Tim.

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