Department

Organization Development

Date of Paper/Work

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Dissertation

Advisors

Alla Heorhiadi, John Conbere, David Donnay

Abstract

Senior leaders play impactful and important roles in organizations they lead. Being a CEO or senior leader in an organization can sometimes be the “loneliest job” in the entire organization. They carry a significant burden on their shoulders; ensuring that the organizations they are leading continue to improve, grow and flourish. While they are “on the hook” for those outcomes, how do senior leaders ensure that they get the insight needed to grow and improve themselves? Do colleagues surrounding these leaders provide feedback on how they are doing as leaders in their respective organizations? If so, how do leaders respond to that feedback? Does it provide insight they need to become better leaders?

This was an interpretive, multi-case study seeking to understand senior leaders’ perceptions and responses to feedback from others. Four senior leaders and some of their colleagues, representing different industries participated in this study. Interviews were conducted to understand not only the senior leaders’ experiences with feedback, but also the experiences their colleagues have as they provide their leader with feedback.

Analysis across the cases revealed four major themes around leaders’ early experiences and their beliefs about feedback, how creating trust enabled constructive feedback to occur, leaders' association of feedback with “needs improvement,” and how the disposition of the leader and the internal environment of the organization impacted the feedback leaders received. This study also provides some insight about the topic of senior leaders and feedback from current literature and research.

To grow, an individual needs to understand self. Receipt of feedback provides an opportunity to gain insight that may allow a leader to get to know self better. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

Keywords

feedback, senior leader feedback, perceptions of feedback, response to feedback

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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