Date of this Version
This study investigated leadership development of Registered Dietitians in nationally elected or appointed leadership positions of the American Dietetic Association. An explanatory sequential mixed method design: participant selection model was used collecting qualitative data after a quantitative phase. Demographic data were collected via a mailed survey questionnaire followed by, with consent, a web based validated Sentence Completion Test International- Maturity Assessment Profile Research Version (2) (SCTi- MAP) to determine their stage of leadership development. Of the 97 participants, 86% (n=83) responded to the survey questionnaire with 92% (n=79) rating the importance of dietitians being leaders as very important; 100% (n=83) believed that leadership ability can be developed; 70% (n=66) did not think that learning about leadership through education and training was sufficient to help people transform into leaders; 78% (n=65) believed that leadership is related to seeing the world through new eyes; 99% (n=82) think that there are stages of developmental growth in leadership, and 96% (n=80) think that leadership maturity evolves over time. Forty-six of the original 97 subjects completed the SCTi-MAP with a response rate of 47%. Of the 46, 87% (n=40) were identified at the Conventional level with 26% (n=12) at the Expert Action Logic, Stage 3/4 and 61% (n=28) at the Achiever Action Logic, Stage 4, and 13% (n=6) were identified at the Post Conventional Individualist Action Logic, Stage 4/5 of development. Twenty-five participants who completed the SCTI-MAP agreed to participate in the qualitative phase of the study to determine the process/model of leadership. The model was based on semi-structured, audio recorded, transcribed telephone interviews where participants described their experience of leadership. Transcripts were open coded for categories, sub-categories and dimensions. The six categories identified were: “getting hooked,” born/made, mentoring, horizontal development, personal growth and “from fear to freedom.” Categories were then collapsed into a taxonomy of leadership development in the axial coding paradigm which distinguished the central phenomenon as: mentoring as the segue to leadership. The model hypothesizes the sequential unfolding of the leadership development process, and positions it for validation and further study.