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Title: Critical learning in the transition from professional specialist to senior executive
Author: Durrant, Richard E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 6321
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2013
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Many organisations depend heavily on having professional employees become capable leaders, but very little research has been done to ask leaders themselves about the learning involved in this very significant change of roles. In this study, a group of senior executives in large public and private sector organisations identified the most important leadership related insights and skills they had acquired as they made the transition from professional specialist to senior leader. Six male and six female executives each participated in approximately three hours of in-depth interviewing during which they shared narratives describing the events and experiences that had led to these key areas of learning. Participants began their careers in fields as diverse as police service, engineering, corporate law, nursing, economics and teaching, and they worked in organisations ranging from hospitals, to universities, to government agencies, to a variety of large corporations. Even with this notable diversity, and with the freedom to speak without prompting, there was substantial common ground in the insights and skills they determined to be most important to their performance as leaders, and there were shared patterns in the types of learning experiences they described. At the same time, these executives were distinctly different individuals with unique backgrounds, and it was notable that they had each made sense of leadership in their own personal way. Their career stories also revealed that becoming a senior leader involved three types of profound personal change. Implications and recommendations for further research and for leadership development are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available