Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Clark, David


This thesis asks a question about what if feels like to experience authentic leadership. The purpose is to grasp the essence of authentic leadership as experienced through the lives of those who have served under and/or over those they perceive and identify as “authentic” leaders. This was done through a series of steps. This began with a literary and a biblical review which were conducted to establish the current scholarship related to authentic leadership. Finally, a new phenomenological study was conducted in October of 2018 to expand upon these findings and the essence is described. Through the phenomenology and subsequent qualitative research, the researcher came to the conclusion that authentic leadership is provided, felt, and acted upon in different ways by different people in different cultures. Though the expression varies, the universal essence of authentic leadership is an emotional paradox coming from “anxiety” and “fear” (often experienced as pain) followed by a sense of “relief” and “peace.” Through the repetition of this process hope is established and authenticity is felt or “experienced” as a response to these trigger events. A model of existential peace is offered to demonstrate this meaning, but no model for creating an authentic leader is presented as a phenomenology can only provide the groundwork needed to establish such a theory. A model for manufacturing or provoking authentic leadership is outside the bounds of this thesis as all cultures represent leadership in different ways requiring further research to be conducted. This thesis can serve as the foundation for such a study.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis