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The Baseline Officer Longitudinal Study (BOLDS)

BOLDS is a multiyear study of leader development that was originally launched in 1994 with cadets from the entire West Point class of 1998. This study was initially started to examine the development of leadership for members in the class during their four years at West Point, and at a few select points in time after their graduation. Twenty years later, the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking (CLST) has been contracted by the Army Research Institute to undertake a follow-up investigation. Using an online survey, CLST will be collecting data on the class of 1998 to examine any changes in leadership style and how current peers, supervisors and direct reports view their leadership.

A key guiding assumption for the original investigation is that we know leadership development unfolds over time, but most of the evidence in the Army and the leadership literature in general examines leadership development across very short time spans. The BOLDS study is unique in that we can look back at early factors that have shaped a leader’s development; such as leadership roles in high school, at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in early duty assignments, and through to current leadership roles. We know of no other longitudinal study in the field of leadership with such a controlled starting point for assessing leadership emergence, development and performance over such an extended period of time.

As part of this data collection, the BOLDS projects donated $10 for every participant who completed the follow-up survey to the 98 Fund .The 98 Fund is a non-profit founded 10 years ago by members of the class of 1998 with the mission to “provide help to classmates who returned from combat different than the way they left, to create opportunities for the children to preserve the memories of their parent(s), and to remain ready to meet additional, unforeseen needs that arise due to the dynamic and ever-changing battlefield of the 21st century.” The BOLDS project is proud to support the mission of the 98 Fund. For more questions regarding the BOLDS project, please contact [email protected].