Date of Graduation


Document Type

Restricted Dissertation - USF access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Walter Gmelch

Third Advisor

Richard Johnson III


Which leadership styles are most effective, the optimal way to select and develop leaders, and how leaders should best operate under demanding circumstances are understudied topics in the field of leadership. This dissertation applied a qualitative research methodology to leaders within the U.S. Army. A representative population was selected from among their ranks, and examined for how well or poorly they fit prevailing models of leadership, in particular the prevailing model of transformational leadership. Whether transformational leadership best characterizes the style of effective leadership employed by officers in the U.S. Army, how leadership operates in a military context, and what lessons can be learned from that are the questions this research attempted to answer.

Interview answers given by the officer population were compiled and examined. Themes common to their answers were then identified, as well as the overarching principles common to how respondents characterized what they considered effective leadership within the military. The novel results of this inquiry were not what was expected after a careful review of the literature on leadership. Recommendations were then made on how leadership can best operate on a tactical level, how to best select and develop leaders, and what it means to lead well within and without the context of the military.

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