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Al Barkouli, Ph.D. is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Barkouli with Dissertation Committee members at his Dissertation Defense, Santa Barbara, May 2015

Left to Right : Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Member, Dr. Al Guskin, Chair, Dr. Al Barkouli, Dr. Philomena Essed, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee:

  • Alan Guskin, Ph.D., Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Philomena, Essed, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Michael Bassis, Ph.D., External Reader

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

This study used the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to better understand how organizational leaders experienced fear-related emotions. Through semi-structured interviews, fifteen executive leaders, mainly chief executive officers (CEOs), shared their experiences in response to threatening, risky, or dangerous incidents. In addition to a phenomenological understanding of the experience, participants illuminated the role that fear-related emotions play in leader decisions, how these emotions influence leader-follower relationships, the impacts of fear-related emotions on leaders’ health and well-being, and the ways leaders managed their experience with fear-related emotions including the role courage played. Leaders often faced threats, risks, or dangers (stimuli) from within the organization itself and from the external organizational environment. The fear of not-knowing enough or not being good enough (self-doubt) and the fear of loss that often accompanies change were experienced the most by these leaders. The participants decided between a fear-focused (maladaptive) strategy and an incident-focused (adaptive) strategy when they were susceptible to a threatening, risky or dangerous stimulus. Leader efficacy was the key to a leader’s choice, where strong leader efficacy resulted in adaptive decisions and weak leader efficacy resulted in maladaptive ones. In the follower-leader relationship, the participants often suppressed their fear-related emotions by using surface or deep acting, which at times affected leader authenticity and trust. Leaders experienced serious to mild health and well-being effects as a result of the emotional experience, while leaders who used suppression techniques experienced more serious health impacts. Supportive relationships, practicing mindfulness, and a leader’s personal courage, including the courage to be emotionally vulnerable, played an important role in how leaders managed fear-related emotions. This study has important implications to both leaders and leadership. Using complexity leadership framework, this study provides a better understanding of the risks, dangers and threats within the leadership context and how fear-related emotions can influence leaders and the leadership process including decision making, relationships with followers and the health and well-being of leaders. This study also highlights the important role leader efficacy plays especially when dealing with complex adaptive challenges. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA http://aura.antioch.edu/ and OhioLink ETD Center https://etd.ohiolink.edu/etd

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Dr. Al Barkouli

Al Barkouli, P.E., Ph.D. is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of David Evans and Associates, Inc. (DEA). DEA is a professional consulting services firm of over 900 employees headquartered in Portland, Oregon and ranked as one of the Top 500 Design Firms in the United States. He is a professional engineer and alum of Portland State University.

ORCID Scholar ID :

0000-0002-9565-2698