Purpose/Objective     After completing a Leadership and Communications course at USU, I wanted to discover whether the ability to lead is innate or if it can be learned. A fellow student had the same interest, and we collaborated on this research project. All of our work was done on our own time and was reviewed by a mentoring professor.    In our research we sought the perspectives of 96 corporate leaders or their designated experts from around the world. Sixteen different industries were represented in our sample: healthcare (medical doctors and nurses), finance, construction, auto mechanics, service (heating and cooling, Uber, and others), advertising, military (U.S. Marines), economics, primary and secondary educational systems, higher education (universities), sales, engineering, crafting, insurance, business strategy, and retail.    We wanted to gain insights into what industry experts thought about leadership. Did they believe leadership could be taught and, if so, how?         Process      Preparation     Before beginning the project our mentoring professor challenged us to read published works on the leadership research and write a paper about what we learned. This gave us the knowledge base to effectively design and conduct the research. It also provided me with a framework wherein I could add my own creativity and insight once we had analyzed the research findings.          Research     Before my peer joined me on the project, I developed a set of 14 questions, based on current research methods, to ask the participants. Crafting these questions required review and feedback from my mentoring professor and approval by the Internal Review Board (IRB) who also monitored the questions and research as a whole. These questions were refined further to improve clarity after we had conducted our first three or four interviews.    We sought a wide sampling of leaders and experts, and so we reached out to nearly 100 individuals, with nearly all of them agreeing to participate in our study. As noted above, we interviewed 96 leaders or experts from 16 different industries.    Of those interviewed, half held chief board positions (CEO, CMO, and so forth) and the other half were individuals who had been in the field for more than 15 years and were considered leaders by their peers.    My partner and I individually conducted one-on-one interviews, using the questions I had developed. Interviews were conducted in person wherever possible; only a handful were handled over the phone or via Skype. I interviewed 43 of our participants. The question and answer portion of the interviews lasted 40 to 60 minutes. If a leader or expert believed that leadership could be taught, we asked them how it could be taught in a manner that would prepare undergraduates for the workplace. Afterward, time was allowed for interviewees to share any additional thoughts or insights they had on the subject.          Analysis     After transcribing the recorded interviews we codified our findings, organizing them by topics and themes, and began our evaluation. Analyzing stacks of data from nearly 100 experts required a deep level of analytical thinking and creativity to piece the messages and ideas together to form cohesive and relevant findings.
   Conclusions     We discovered that those leaders and experts who had business degrees overwhelmingly believed that leadership cannot be taught or learned; leadership skills are an innate part of personality.    However, those with all other educational backgrounds believed that leadership is a skill that can be learned and developed. Some suggested that it could be learned through coursework, mentoring, and experience. They proposed developing leadership curriculum in the universities, creating team learning modules, and providing mentoring experiences for students.     Our research laid a foundation for future investigation into ways leadership can be integrated into undergraduate and graduate curriculums. Even with so much research, it was just the first step into determining how to teach it to students. Much more research remains to be done.     Currently, this research project is on pause. We hope to complete and publish our research in the future.          Insights     I learned that original research on such a broad topic takes much longer than I had anticipated. I also learned the importance of listening to a large variety of insights and viewpoints. 
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