Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

Transformational Leadership: An Examination of Significant Leadership Development Life Experiences of Selected Doctor of Ministry Students

Diane Wiater
Regent University

This study reveals that transformational leaders in the sample group identify similar significant developmental episodes as other transformational leaders in the same group. The intent of the research is to examine the meaning-making systems of transformational leaders. The research assumes a constructivist development theory of leadership. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, the Life Experiences Questionnaire (modified) and a structured interview, were used to identify leadership style, evaluate life history constructs and attempt to relate those to significant developmental experiences of the sample group. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) (Bass & Avolio, 1995) was used to determine transformational and transactional leadership styles, a modified Life Experiences Questionnaire (LEQM) (Southwick, 1998) was used to determine biodata constructs and a structured interview (Kuhnert & Russell, (1990) was used to determine the meaning ascribed by the leader to significant life experiences. Through the structured interview, leaders identified significant developmental episodes and responded to questions about those episodes concerning the significance, what they learned, the demands placed on them and limitations to their actions. The results of this study are three-fold. First, through qualitative coding of leaders' significant events, 30 descriptive themes emerged. Some of these themes are consistent with descriptors of transformational leadership dimensions and biodata construct descriptions. Second, transformational leader identification of significant developmental life experiences coincides with Kegan's prediction that transformational leaders have attained stages 4 & 5 of development. Third, leaders in the sample group identified as significant, events through which they changed communities, cities or nations. The significance they attributed to these episodes is leadership development of others, gaining confidence, furthering a mission/vision, and personal fulfillment.