Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Mary Woods Scherr, PhD, Director; William P. Foster, EdD; Ronald A. Pachence, PhD


faith, Leadership studies, Phenomenology, spiritual journey, self-transcendence, transformational leaders


Transformational leadership, as it has come to be understood in the study of leadership, is a relationship among people that is characterized by mutual purposes that transcend daily concerns--purposes directed is some way toward the common good. Transformational leaders hold and articulate vision, shape values, and engage themselves and others in efforts that somehow benefit the human community. Faith development and the spiritual journey can be viewed as providing a context for transformational leadership because they involve an individual's search for self-transcendence and ultimate meaning in life. This search is a process that includes movement towards wholeness and integration by living responsibly and responsively in community with others. There are scattered references in the literature about the relationship between faith and leadership, but they fail to provide an in-depth look at the dynamics involved in this relationship. If these dynamics are to be understood more fully, access must be gained to the spiritual lives of transformational leaders. This research examined the relationship between faith and transformational leadership by undertaking an in-depth study of the spiritual journeys of ten transformational leaders. The purpose of the study was to develop a clearer understanding of the ways in which faith and the spiritual journey interact with the process of transformational leadership. The study utilized the phenomenological method of research. Data were obtained through two interviews conducted with each participant. During these interviews, participants reflected on their spiritual journeys and shared as much as possible about the process of their leadership. Findings of the study showed that faith holds a wide range of meanings among the leaders interviewed. Faith was viewed as foundational to their leadership by some, but not all, of the participants. Most saw an interactive relationship between their leadership and their spiritual journeys. All participants described life events that changed their faith perspectives and impacted their leadership. These leaders enact their faith through their leadership primarily by the nature of the vision they use to guide their organizations and communities. Most of the leaders have experienced spiritual change through their leadership, usually as a result of being open to full participation with others in the leadership relationship.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access