"Drive On": The relationship between psychological variables and effective squad leadership

Todd A. Gilson, Melissa A. Dix, Marc Lochbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The U.S. Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) conducts systematic assessments of cadets' leadership abilities during field training exercises (FTX) to assess their leadership abilities. While cadets in ROTC programs learn specific tactical operation procedures to augment FTX performances, much less is known about the relationship between psychological variables and squad leadership performance. To this end, 220 cadets completed self-efficacy, psychological flexibility, and grit questionnaires, which were then compared to FTX performance scores. Results underscored that only selfefficacy was significantly related to cadets' squad leadership ability. Furthermore, prior service in the U.S. Army had no effect on the performance score one attained, highlighting an interesting paradox. Therefore, while self-efficacy can be cultivated through prior experiences, it seems more prudent to educate ROTC cadets on how to apply psychological skills to bolster self-efficacy in preparation for upcoming challenging leadership experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalMilitary Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Grit
  • Prior service
  • Psychological flexibility
  • Self-efficacy
  • U.S. Army


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