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Dissertation Abstract

The Relationship of Ego Identity Status to Effective Leader Behavior

Michale R. Ayers
Regent University

With all the dynamic research in psychology upon the construct of identity and its effect upon behavior as conceived by Freud and Jung (Hopke, 1995) and developed by Erikson (1968) and Marcia (1966), a thorough investigation revealed that no theory of leadership adequately includes or explains the internal dynamics at work within leaders that affect their leadership behavior. Moreover, no study to this point has addressed Erikson's construct of ego identity in relationship to the exercise of leadership. This study examined the relationship of ego identity status as defined by Marcia to effective leader behavior as outlined by Kouzes and Posner (1995). The study used the Archer and Waterman Identity Status Interview (Marcia, Waterman, Matteson, Archer, & Orlofsky, 1993) to determine the ego identity status of 51 adult male leaders and investigated the correlation of these designations to their leadership practices using the Leadership Practices Inventory (Kouzes, 2003). Analyses of this data provided support for the relationship of the variables and substantiated the need for further research. The most notable positive correlations were between the achieved identity status and leadership scales of model the way ( p = .056) and challenge the process ( p = .090); there was also a significant negative correlation between the diffusion identity status and the leadership scale of encourage the heart ( p = .024). A definition and conceptual framework for ontology of leadership is offered. Implications for future research and the praxis of leadership are discussed.