An exploration of the lived experiences of senior-level community college followers in the co-creation of the leadership process

Newton, Bryan D., author
Kaiser, Leann, advisor
Doe, Sue, committee member
Hegeman, Diane, committee member
Quick, Don, committee member
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Colorado State University. Libraries
Community colleges are in the midst of an unprecedented leadership crisis precipitated by large numbers of its presidents retiring, new political, financial and regulatory demands for presidents to oversee and the lack of robust succession planning to fill leadership vacancies. At the same time followership has become of interest in higher education and leadership studies as failures in followership at colleges and universities have brought negative attention, and emerging theories of followership have evolved. As new leaders take the helm at community colleges, more research is needed on how leaders and followers work together to lead these institutions of higher education that educate almost half of the undergraduates in the United States. This study's purpose was to explore how senior-level followers co-create leadership with their community college presidents. The sole research question asked was what were the lived experiences and followership behaviors of community college senior-level followers in the co-creation of the leadership process with their supervisor presidents. Senior-level followers at community colleges in the state of Maryland with at least three years' experience participated in this qualitative study. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was utilized as the methodology for this research. The findings resulted in four superordinate themes comprising deference to the president, informed and interactive decision-making, vision and mission and respectful relationships. The superordinate themes were developed from eight emergent themes including role of the president, final decisions, planning and information gathering, conversation and collaboration, supporting the president's vision, common belief in mission, trust and honesty and integrity. The study provided recommendations on ingraining followership in community college presidential selection processes, adjusting the competencies of community college presidents to include followership, changing leadership development programs to incorporate the development of leaders and followers in the leadership co-creation process and strengthening employee performance evaluations to measure leader and follower effectiveness in leadership co-creation. Suggestions for future research were identified including using different sample populations, reversing the research to account for the lived experiences and followership behaviors of presidents, strengthening homogeneity among participants to better understand the lived experiences and behaviors of community college vice presidents and utilizing quantitative approaches to further explore the leadership process in community colleges.
2019 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
community college presidents, followership, leadership process, community colleges, community college leadership, leadership