Research Findings|January 30, 2014

In Search of Conscious Leadership: A Qualitative Study of Postsecondary Educational Leadership Practices

By Valita Jones
Doctoral Dissertation, San Diego State University

The purpose of this study was to examine the leadership practices of postsecondary educational leaders who are practicing what can be described as responsible and accountable leadership or conscious leadership. Eight senior postsecondary leaders participated in face-to-face interviews designed to identify conscious leadership qualities and practices.

All of the participants took the Conscioussness Quotient Inventory to measure their global consciousness and awareness. Data from the interviews were used to answer four research questions designed to investigate what they were doing on a daily basis and why they have become more responsible and conscious leaders. A delimitation of this study was that the emphasis placed on using conscious leadership as a leadership framework was fairly new, thus educational leaders were not formally familiar with a conscious leadership practice. A limitation of this qualitative study is its ability to generalize the results to a larger population. Interviews were primarily conducted within the Western region, therefore limiting the generalization to differing perspectives nationwide.

Findings suggest that participants incorporated a variety of conscious leadership practices into their daily practice. The leaders demonstrated an awareness of: (a) a social systems orientation or approach to leading; (b) patterns and themes that informed the work environment; and (c) the benefits of a shared or participatory leadership practice. Preparing postsecondary educational leaders to become more observant of their work environments as dynamic living systems, adds value, in the form of increased skills and can potentially aid leaders in creating meaning and bringing order to continuously transforming workplaces. Results provided insight into responsible and conscious leadership practices and offers direction for developing future conscious leaders.

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