Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Women’s Authentic Leadership Development

Natasha Mantler

This qualitative study used Moustakas’ transcendental phenomenological approach to provide a comprehensive understanding of the social construction of authenticity and how this is experienced throughout the stages of adult development. In particular, the intent was to augment women’s leadership development programs to prevent further entrenchment of gender and leader biases. Initially, 33 women who had already completed a developmental STAGES assessment, completed a survey about authentic leadership experiences. Using unified stratified sampling, 10 women were selected from the 33 for interviews, spread evenly across different developmental levels. Data were analyzed using the four processes of phenomenology: epoche, reduction (textural), imaginative variation (structure), and synthesis (composite). Findings indicate that women leaders experienced and understood authentic leading and leadership differently throughout developmental stages with more advanced stages being more complex with ever-widening perspectives and understandings. Women leaders with a socialized mind had a theoretical understanding of authenticity with momentary experiences of the phenomenon. The embodied experience of authentic leading arose in the self-authoring mind. Awareness of gender biases related to leadership became objective within the self-transforming mind accommodating the very insidious nature of biases. The sole women leader with a self-transcending mind (a neologism introduced in this research) understood authentic leading as unity within body, mind and soul. These phenomenological findings and their interpretation contribute to understanding women’s authentic leading characterized by the pervasive nature of gender and leader biases.

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