Investigating the Qualities of a Preschool Leader: A Latent Profile Analysis
There are individuals that emerge as leaders in every stage of the lifespan, including early childhood. Research investigating early childhood leaders and the characteristics that set them apart from their peers is scant. This study is the first to assess the constructs that comprise the profiles of preschool leaders by using latent profile analysis (LPA). We hypothesized that profiles with higher executive functioning, emotion knowledge, emotion regulation, imagination, theory of mind, receptive vocabulary, and higher reception of prosocial behaviors would score higher on our construct of leader. We also hypothesized that profiles scoring average on the constructs of interest would score average on the construct of leader, and profiles scoring low on the constructs of interest would score lowest on the construct of leader. Our hypotheses were tested through secondary data analysis of four similar data sets that included 401 preschoolers from West Alabama. As hypothesized, profiles with the highest scores on the constructs of interest scored highest on the leader construct; profiles with average scores on the constructs of interest scored average on the leader construct; and profiles with the lowest scores on the constructs of interest scored the lowest on the leader construct. Our findings have implications for current and future models of leadership development. This study adds to the underdeveloped topic of leadership in early childhood and will be the starting point for the creation of a validated leader measure for preschoolers.