Senior Women Leaders’ Motivation and Success In Higher Education Administration in the United States
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The purpose of this study was to discover and understand the experiences that influenced women to obtain and persevere in leadership roles in higher education administrative positions. The results enhanced understanding of what motivates women to pursue leadership positions and provided strategies for career advancement and leadership development. This study recognized challenges facing such women, as well as their tactics for overcoming them. This qualitative phenomenological research study discovered and explored the phenomena as lived and experienced by the participants (Creswell, 1998). The purposely selective sample included 11 women in senior/executive positions in higher education administration. Utilizing a triangulation technique, the researcher collected multiple sources of data, including interviewing, observations, and document analysis. Findings reveal that the participants were intrinsically moved by a great desire to make a positive difference, to help others, to achieve personal growth and development, and to create and support the organization’s mission and vision. An array of extrinsic motivational factors such as academic training and qualifications, mentors, role models, affiliation, promotion, feedback, recognition, and family support were also identified. To succeed in their careers, the participants identified self-knowledge, strong relationships, self-confidence, faith, mentors, networking, and humor as assets. When faced with complex challenges, they took time to meditate, reflect, consult, and pray before making decisions. These and other attributes explored proved vital for their career success. This study results supported motivational and leadership theories of Maslow’s PREVIEW(1954) Hierarchy of Needs Theory, Burn’s (1978) Transformational Leadership Theory,and Bandura’s (1986) Self-Efficacy Theory.