Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The use of reflection by leaders: A study of upper-tier organizational leaders
by Grissom, Pamela Christine, Ed.D., Indiana Wesleyan University, 2015, 287; 3716285
Abstract (Summary)

As organizational leaders are faced with challenges associated with leading in complex and often changing environments, the use of reflection or reflective thinking becomes ever more important and necessary. Also, the use of reflection has been mentioned as a key ingredient to effective leadership in more recent years. Reflection’s importance is highlighted in various disciplines (such as education, nursing, and medicine); however, it is not as prevalent in business disciplines and with business leaders. This current study is important, since leaders in general are often encouraged to meet bottom-line demands with brevity, which may leave little time or concession for reflection or slowing down and assessing learning in situations. In addition, taking time to challenge prevailing mindsets or assumptions tends to occur only after a crisis or when something adverse has happened personally or within the organization. In this qualitative study, 20 upper-tier leaders from various organizations and disciplines participated in in-depth interviews regarding their descriptions and uses of reflection in their leadership roles—individually and organizationally. A snowball sampling technique was utilized to assist in obtaining many of the participants. The interviews, which were conducted and recorded based on the availability of the participants, included reflection descriptions, processes, strategies, experiences, and predominant practices that the interviewed leaders may use on a regular basis. Following this, interview data was transcribed, reviewed, and analyzed using computer-aided software, where key themes and sub-themes were discovered, shared, and documented. In this study, it was found that all 20 participants used reflection to some extent on a regular basis in their leadership. They were able to share in-depth on reflection processes and strategies used; how reflection has aided their overall development, their learning from experiences, thinking and decision-making, and effectiveness; and how reflection has contributed to their success as leaders. Several leaders also indicated that they used reflective practices without ever calling them “reflection,” and the majority currently used some sort of a system or systematic process for reflection for themselves individually, with direct reports, or with colleagues.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ludden, LaVerne L.
Commitee: Johnson, John, Neal, Terry
School: Indiana Wesleyan University
Department: Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Management
Keywords: Leader development, Leadership, Qualitative research, Reflection, Reflective practice, Reflective thinking
Publication Number: 3716285
ISBN: 978-1-321-94874-5
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