Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Barbara J. Daley

Committee Members

Alfonzo Thurman, Carol Colbeck, Romila Singh


Development, Leader, Leadership, Military, Training, Veteran


This phenomenological study examined the lived leader development experience of Post 9/11 Army veterans while serving in the armed forces. At least $10-$15 billion is spent annually on leadership development in the United States and human resource executives claim developing leaders is their number one priority over the next five years. Simultaneously, companies actively hiring veterans claim the former service member's leadership abilities are their most desired quality. Inspection of the Army’s leader development program offers an opportunity for employers to integrate revised approaches in their own leadership development initiatives.

A purposive sample of ten Army veterans—six males and four females—ranging in age from 18 to over 21 upon enlistment completed a leadership autobiography about their pre-military leadership experience. The former service members were subsequently interviewed about their leader development experience while serving in the Army. Four primary themes emerged and outlined the lived Army leader development experience: (a) consistent first Army experiences, (b) impact of observing, (c) performing is essential, and (d) we are all leaders despite not understanding the process. A discussion about the study’s purpose, review of pertinent literature, data collection and analysis process, and findings are presented. The paper concludes with an examination of the findings; offers implications for the Army, veterans, and employers; and proposes future research.