Emotions as a lasting leadership learning in high-potential female students


  • Mónica Segovia King Juan Carlos University
  • Pilar Laguna-Sánchez
  • Ana M. Vargas-Pérez King Juan Carlos University
  • Concepción de la Fuente-Cabrero King Juan Carlos University




emotions, leadership skills, self-confidence, women leader, female barriers


Women's underrepresentation in leadership positions is a well-known problem. The lack of self-confidence and training in leadership is highlighted in the literature as the two main barriers to women seeking managerial positions. Educational organizations have to provide leadership skills development and gain-oriented personal resources through women's leadership programs. Research demonstrates that emotions improve the learning process in educational activities. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, there has been little feminist research focused on how emotions modulate the learning process in educational leadership programs and how they promote students’ personal change, which needs to last in time. To fill this gap, the objective of this study is to present an evaluation of the impact of emotions on a leadership program for female undergraduates, using a multi-source program assessment based on triangulation. The study analyzes the students' emotions during and after the university Women's Leadership Program (WLP), exploring their learning processes in the acquisition of formal leadership skills, personal resources, and personal inner transformation as a fusion of their emotions. The Achievement Emotions Questionnaire (AEQ) scale was applied including 9 items (α= 0.72). Bivariate analyses were conducted using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) and exploratory factor analysis. Additionally, focus groups were carried out at the end of the course, two weeks after, to allow time for reflection by the participants. The analysis was carried out as a conventional content analysis (inductive). The results of an online survey and focus groups with the students and the perceptions of the lecturers suggest that emotions contributed to fostering the learning of leadership skills and triggering deep inner personal development. The findings indicate that i) positive and negative valence contributes to the appraisal process, helping them to be self-reflective about their personal leadership qualities, ii) reinforcing their own shortcomings and improving self-skills such as confidence, building leadership fluidly. In addition, the emotional state of the trainers who accompanied the students during the sessions of the program was highly significant, becoming emotional triggers. Furthermore, trainers also become role models. Practical implications for the future are provided for the educational institutions and business managers to improve women leadership programs