Leading through influence as ideas: A narrative study of authenticity's effect on academic women's work

by Jones, Elizabeth H., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2009, 269 pages; 3368999


This narrative study identified and examined the processes by which women grow and make meaning through work by drawing from the narratives of seven women to explore interactions of authenticity, publication, influence, and professional and personal life experiences. All of the women in this study were full professors at large East Coast research universities who held or had held codified leadership positions; each, however, demonstrated a preference for non-positional leadership and influence instead. Non-positional leadership of the sort uniformly exercised by these women—that of conceiving ideas as influence—plays a prototypical role in defining and advancing the intellectual and strategic foundations of organizations and social movements, yet remains fundamentally independent of both the codified positions and socials role of individual idea creators.

The study was predicated on the idea that to better appreciate concepts of leadership and authenticity, it is necessary to move beyond the prevailing research focus on understanding positional leadership by focusing on leadership through influence as ideas, acknowledging gender, and examining how people create meaning through work. The women in the study were members of an elite group that transcended organizational and social barriers to achieve not only doctorates, but the highest teaching rank, full professor. All of the women had served in myriad administrative roles as well as in their primary work roles of researcher and teacher. The women in this study had become adept at juggling the conflicting demands of their inner voices, not only as a coping mechanism, but as an annealing process through which both life satisfaction and external influence were enhanced. The women in the study have chosen, clearly and strongly, to lead by ideas. All of the women have answered the question “What is my work?” The end product of their work—their real work—is influence. For these seven women, authenticity is more than agency and being true to self: it is being in right relationship with others and using their gifts for the betterment of all.

AdviserShelley R. Robbins
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsWomen's studies; Management; Higher education
Publication Number3368999

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