Life stories of authentic leaders in higher education administration

Meacham, Margaret Anne, 1959-
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This study researched authentic leaders (Avolio & Gardner, 2005) who were selfaware of their values, beliefs, ethical philosophies, and character strengths while using this knowledge to strengthen their self-regulation. They used positive modeling to enhance follower development, which ultimately promoted veritable and sustainable outcomes personally and professionally that integrated with the authentic leader's purpose in life. Higher education, as a multi-billion dollar industry, uses shared governance that creates challenges for its leadership. Authentic leaders who hold senior administrative positions within higher education are often confronted with varying levels of administrative challenges, especially immoral, unethical, or illegal policies and practices. Senior administrators are often the frontline for creating, supporting, and maintaining either an inauthentic culture at their institution that supports the status quo or an authentic culture at their institution that promotes and supports positive change focused on the common good. This study reviewed the literature regarding eudaimonia, positive psychology, positive leadership, and higher education administration. The focus was on authentic leaders who were senior administrators in higher education administration. This study utilized life stories to identify the common themes within these senior administrators' lives that allowed them to develop into authentic leaders who had the moral courage to take courageous principled-action against immoral, unethical, and illegal policies and practices within their institutions. This study produced a theoretical model that was juxtaposed against Avolio and Gardner's (2005) Authentic Leader Model confirming their research, as well as extending their research into the moral courage and courageous principled-action research domains. This study has primary value for persons interested in having a deeper understanding of leadership, positive leadership, authentic leadership, moral development, moral courage, courageous principled-action, and higher education administration. This study has secondary value for persons interested in developing as an authentic leader, working effectively within higher education administration, or aspiring to develop the moral courage that will support their willingness and capabilities for taking courageous principled-action.