The following text is an abstract from my MA disssertation researched under the auspices of Kingston University. The paper was completed over five years ago and was awarded the mark of distinction. Get in touch if this approach is of interest to you!
‘A Phenomenological Exploration of the Lived Experience of Leadership Developers’
This study aims to explore the lived experience of leadership developers, which hardly features in mainstream leadership studies and literature. The literature review reveals that the lived experience of leadership is also rarely considered in academic texts, which largely produce scientifically influenced data to ensure that leadership capabilities can be reproduced in commercial settings. Hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology was selected to offset the preponderance of this research, with the objective of generating a rounded depiction of the lived experience of leadership development. The aim in presenting the data is to foreground the voice and lived experience of leadership developers to generate plausible insights about the topic for both readers and aspiring leaders. The researcher interviewed six highly experienced leadership developers with multifaceted portfolios who are academics, trainers, consultants or teachers within statutory, educational, voluntary or commercial settings. The study is written, data presented and its interpretations rendered, with the intention of bringing readers into more direct contact with the primordial or lived experience of leadership development.
Four key areas are featured in the data, of which two are not unknown to mainstream research. The first refers to the subtleties involved when leaders listen deeply, though listening itself, is covered sparsely in conventional texts. The second area, integrity, has undergone detailed explorations resulting in actionable theories and definitions in the last two years. A further two themes are relatively novel: one concerning the need for leaders to be able to ‘let go’ and the other being the ‘less visible factors’ that affect leaders and leadership development. The relative originality of three out of the four key findings here provides a reasonable justification for mainstream leadership research to be counterbalanced by an investment of resources in hermeneutic interpretive approaches. Researching into issues such as the lived experience of a listening leader, the lived experience of leaders who claim to have integrity, and the influence of being able to ‘let go’ on the experience of leadership and leadership development for instance.