Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Path to Wholeness: Women's Authentic Leadership Development
by Mantler, Natasha, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2017, 148; 10289370
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this dissertation was to provide a comprehensive understanding of the social construction of authenticity and how this is experienced throughout the stages of adult development, with the specific intent of augmenting women’s leadership development programs, and thus preventing further entrenchment of stereotypes. In a culture that is deeply conflicted by women’s authority, where men and women, along with the gendered structure of most organizations, hold unconscious biases and stereotypes, a developmental understanding for women’s leadership development is necessary. The research question was: How do women develop and experience authentic leading and leadership throughout the adult stages of development?

This qualitative study used Moustakas’s (1994) transcendental phenomenological approach. The sources of data were women participants who had previously completed a developmental StAGES assessment. There were 33 women who completed an initial survey and, utilizing stratified sampling, 10 women were selected for interviews, spread evenly across different developmental levels. The interviews were coded to determine what and how leading authentically is experienced, summarized, and analyzed, creating 4 distinct developmental syntheses: the socialized mind, the self-authoring mind, the self-transforming mind, and the self-transcending mind.

The results indicate women experience and understand authentic leading and leadership differently throughout the stages of development. They follow a path toward wholeness, a developmental process that can be described as the heroine’s journey, where their definitions of authenticity, authentic leaders and leadership, and their experience of leading authentically becomes more complex with ever widening perspectives and understanding, initially intellectual and then embodied. The socialized mind has a theoretical understanding with momentary experiences of the phenomenon, the embodied experience of authentic leading arose in the self-authoring mind, and the awareness of gender and leader biases emerged within the self-transforming mind, thus indicating the very subtle nature of these stereotypes, and the correlation between later developmental levels and greater awareness.

This study contributes to understanding authenticity as a developmental journey and the pervasiveness of gender and leader biases. This study can augment women’s authentic leadership development programs to facilitate authentic leading and vertical development. Deeper inquiry into understanding and preventing the entrenchment of these stereotypes is necessary.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laszlo, Kathia
Commitee: Metcalf, Gary, Piazza, Charles
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Authentic leadership, Authenticity, Constructive developmental theory, Stages, Women's authentic leadership development, Women's leadership
Publication Number: 10289370
ISBN: 9780355091694
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