Date of Award

Winter 12-20-2017

Document Type

Dissertation - Brandman access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patricia Clark White, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Douglas DeVore, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

James Cox, Ph.D.

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this thematic, mixed-methods case study was to identify and describe the behaviors that exemplary healthcare system chief executive officers (CEOs) use to create personal and organizational meaning for themselves and their followers through 5 meaning-making domains: character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration. Additionally, this study investigated the degree of importance to which followers perceived CEOs’ use of character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration led to the creation of personal and organizational meaning. Although considerable research on character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration as leadership variables exists, a study does not occur to investigate the behavioral interaction of all 5 variables as used by exemplary leaders to create meaning for themselves and their followers within an organization.

Methodology: This exploratory mixed-methods study was accomplished by interviewing exemplary healthcare system CEOs regarding their use of behaviors associated with character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration. Additionally, a survey was administered to a group of each CEO followers to determine their perception of how CEO use of character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration led to the creation of personal and organizational meaning.

Findings: Qualitative findings from this research suggest that exemplary healthcare system CEOs utilize behaviors from each domain within the Larick and Peterson meaning-making leadership framework: character, vision, relationships, inspiration, and vision. Quantitative input from followers also indicates that leader behaviors within each of the domains contribute to the development of personal and organizational meaning. The domains of character, vision, and relationships were determined to be most important for the creation of personal and organizational meaning.

Conclusions: In conclusion, findings from this study support the need for CEOs to use behaviors from each of the meaning-making domains (character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration) to create meaning for themselves and their followers. CEOs focused on improving their meaning-making leadership skills should focus on maintaining excellent character, establishing trusting relationships, creating a shared organizational vision, developing a learning organization, and encouraging innovation.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended in the area of meaning-making leadership through replication of this study in similar organizations in different geographical areas in California or across the country. A study is needed to analyze and compare the results of all peer researchers participating in the meaning-making thematic team.

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