Discovering the Leader Within: An Autoethnophenomenographic Study of Mindfulness in Educational Leadership
Date of Award
PHD - Doctor of Philosophy
This qualitative study combined autoethnographic and phenomenological methods to examine a researcher-leader’s attempt to cultivate cognitive, relational, and emotional capacities through regular mindfulness practice, and how the cultivation of such capacities aligns with the enactment of leadership. The interrogation of lived experience and self-analysis was entered with the intention to better understand the promise of mindfulness as a resource for the development of educational leaders. This study explored the perceived connections between mindfulness practice and the enactment of educational leadership by examining internal and external perspectives of an individual leader’s practice. Methods of self-observation, including both interval and occurrence recording techniques as well as retrospective journaling, were applied for a six-month period, at the close of which external feedback through a 360° leadership assessment was collected. The analysis found that the practice of mindfulness became an embedded part of the researcher-leader’s way of thinking and being and contributed to her ability to meet the demands of her professional role. This study also found that the understanding of the self, encouraged by mindfulness practice, assisted in the development of the researcher-leader’s internal capacities, which promoted continual adaptation of external capacities. Increased attention toward renewal and replenishment, increased ability to respond to issues with less reactivity, increased attunement with others, and an expanding ability to take in other perspectives were identified within the researcher-leader’s experience as benefits of her mindfulness practice that had positive effects on her enactment of leadership. Finally, the analysis found that the self-identified areas of strength and growth recognized by the researcher-leader were mirrored in the strengths and areas for growth recognized by colleagues. This study suggests that mindfulness practice may support leaders in their development as continually evolving professionals and human beings. This has implications for leader development programs, suggesting that the integration of mindfulness practices into leadership programs may offer a more supportive and effective learning process for developing practitioners. Additional questions regarding the personal and contextual factors that support or inhibit mindful leadership, the potential risks of introducing mindfulness to leadership, and the potential for autographic methods to support the professional growth of leaders must still be explored.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Number of Pages
Fraser, Alyssa, "Discovering the Leader Within: An Autoethnophenomenographic Study of Mindfulness in Educational Leadership" (2017). Educational Studies Dissertations. 130.
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