Leadership Ph.D. Journey Reflections

Last Saturday, May 6, 2023, I graduated from Regent University with a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, concentrating on Human Resource Development. Although it was a time for celebration, it was also a time for reflection and gratefulness. These last five years have brought joy, wonder, tears, sorrow, doubt, and belief. We welcomed our first son, David Kirk, a year into the program, and he would become our cohort’s beloved mascot. Dr. Mihai Bocarnea was even the first to teach six-week-old David about regression analysis. My beloved husband and best friend, Derek Weinkauf, provided invaluable support and encouragement throughout this journey.

My amazing parents (Claressa, Ray, Donna, Kirk) and family were there for me every step of the way, providing love, guidance, and support. Kaitlyn and Madison, my sisters and best friends, continually provided words of encouragement, virtual coffee, and laughter. Sadly, death gripped our family in June 2021, losing our Nana, Evelyn Doss. In 2022 we lost our PawPaw, Eugene Sellmeyer, and cousin, Barry Absec. Although the deaths of our loved ones propelled us into a season of grief. Their legacies gave me the courage and drive to finish well. My Papa, C.H. Doss, prayed for me constantly and would provide encouraging mini-sermons of faith over the phone. Mimi, Judy Weinkauf, was ever present with her words of wisdom to help me continue the journey. I also had valuable friendships.

In the Spring of 2018, I started my Ph.D. journey to study leadership and contribute to research to advance the field in developing leaders who positively impact people’s lives. I noticed through the years that leaders have the power to propel people into their purpose or hold them back due (primarily due to personal issues). While studying movements that improved our world, it became clear that it started with research that shifted minds and hearts.

Through research, mainstream writers publish books to the masses, training is created in organizations, and people can implement new knowledge. This is why I chose a Ph.D. Not for the title but for the impact that can occur through research and understanding complex organizational issues at the foundational level. Then, create sustainable strategies that improve people’s lives and result in higher job satisfaction and motivation, all while improving the bottom line.

Transformational leadership is my area of focus. Although I love servant and authentic leadership, transformational leadership was the framework of most interest because of how purposeful action transforms one’s self, followers, and entire organizations. When lives are transformed, cities are transformed, and nations are transformed. When people lead from a place of wholeness, countless lives are impacted in unimaginable positive ways.

James V. Downtown developed the concept of transformational leadership in his 1973 Rebel Leadership book. James Burns expanded on the concept in 1978 and gave examples in his infamous Leadership book. In 1985, academic researcher Bernard M. Bass and the help of Avolio and others expanded transformational research and included ways to measure this type of leader.

Many incredible scholars developed research articles describing how a transformational leader behaves. I sought to go deeper and understand the mindset of a transformational leader, mainly due to the research explaining how transformational leaders are burning out. It sparked curiosity as to what drives transformational leadership behaviors. In my dissertation, I used Transformational Leadership theory, Neuroscience in Leadership (also developed by an academic), and Robert Hartman’s Study of Values (formal axiology).

Then, I used the Habit Finder mindset assessment (www.habitfinder.com) and compared it with the Transformational Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ Short-Form). Paul Blanchard was the first leadership coach that helped me understand healthy habits of thinking. His father, Dave Blanchard, also is a mentor and friend. I appreciate their transformational leadership and invaluable work developing Habit Finder into what it is today. I also appreciate their support in using the Habit Finder for my dissertation. As a certified Habit Finder assessment coach, it is the best way to understand how your thinking habits are helping or holding you back from realizing your goals and leadership potential. I invite you to take it for free at www.habitfindercoach.com/meg. Please email me at megan@meganweinkauf.com to set up a debrief session for your assessment.

Over 140 people took both surveys to help understand a transformational leader’s mindset. This project would only exist with participants, and I am grateful for your support. I found that our thoughts about people impact our behaviors toward them, which is understandable. However, in the Habit Finder assessment, other habits of thinking impact our thoughts about people. One Habit of thinking is the way we think about ourselves. I hope leaders learn about themselves and experience healing to lead others to healing and wholeness.

The experience of attending a school like Regent provided an experience that will be cherished for life. Dean Doris Gomez, Ph.D. Gomez is a leader of leaders. She loves people well and seeks the best for every student and faculty member in her care.

Dr. Bruce Winston set a standard of excellence, and we all sought to make him proud. Dr. Debra J Dean, Ph.D., my dissertation chair, was excellent in every definition of the word. She guided me to succeed in the program while providing invaluable support. Dr. Winner brought me so much joy and taught us how to lead and love well. Dr. Buford, Dr. Joshua Henson PhD, Dr. West, Dr. Huizing, Dr. Bocarnea, and Dr. Andy Wood, Ph. D., thank you for your instruction, correction, and guidance throughout the program. You all appreciated more than you will ever know.

While obtaining my Ph.D. at Regent, I taught at ORU full-time at the Fenimore & Fisher College of Business. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues during these last five years. I love and appreciate you all!

Below is a link to my dissertation. Feel free to reach out at megan@meganweinkauf.com if you’d like to discuss the mindset of a transformational leader more. I also offer executive coaching and consulting services to develop leaders who impact people and the bottom line.

Weinkauf Dissertation: https://tinyurl.com/y7mupd6d

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