Born to Lead: Qualitative Study of the Experience of Birth Order on Women in Leadership

Born to Lead: Qualitative Study of the Experience of Birth Order on Women in Leadership

Author: 
Tammy Newstead Valenzuela
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of birth order on women in leadership roles in a government contracted organization. Researchers agree that there are a limited number of studies that have explored the relationships between birth order and women in leadership roles. Semi-structured interview questions were used to obtain information about lived birth order experiences and how the participants perceive that birth order has influenced individual leadership development, leadership style, and advancement opportunities. Women are entering the labor pool in larger numbers than ever before. Knowledge derived from this study may prove beneficial to hiring managers and researchers of leadership topics. Furthermore, implications from this study may help define opportunities for individual advancement, self-awareness, and talent development. Leman and Blair insisted that a fundamental awareness of birth order implications can be of significant benefit in the business environment. Several themes emerged from this study including: (a) women in leadership have little knowledge about the birth order effect; (b) typical birth order characteristics are accurate for most individuals; (c) birth order effect has little influence on opportunities for advancement; (d) the birth order effect is not significant to women aspiring to leadership, achievement of leadership roles, or to leadership style; and (e) leaders are both born and made.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this research effort to my late father, Wallace Newstead, who is the reason that I have been so academically successful. The hours he spent with me reading, playing Scrabble, and challenging my mind with thought provoking discussions is the reason that I gained an appreciation for learning beginning at an early age. My dad always encouraged me to never settle for status quo and to continually endeavor toward bigger and better. I am sad to say that he passed away several years before I began my doctoral journey, but I have no doubt that he would be extremely proud of my accomplishment.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge and extend my sincere gratitude to my Dissertation Committee Chairperson, Dr. Lorraine Priest, and my Dissertation Committee Members, Dr. Jon Webber and Dr. Susanne Beier. Dr. Priest provided relentless support and encouragement throughout my dissertation process. Dr. Priest always swiftly responded to any questions that I had and was only a phone call away when I needed clarification. Dr. Webber offered a high-level of scrutiny that was instrumental in my overall success. Dr. Beier offered constant commitment to my endeavor and was always ready to answer any questions. Each member of my committee provided unique inputs based on their own experience and knowledge. I feel very fortunate to have had a committee with such vast knowledge support me through my doctoral journey. Words alone cannot truly express my gratitude to Dr. Priest, Dr. Webber, and Dr. Beier. I would also like to acknowledge my friends, family, and cohorts. Thomas, my significant, was always ready to give me a hug when I needed it and to help out in any way he could. My son, Blake, was always understanding of my commitment to completing my doctoral studies and helped out with chores whenever I asked without complaining. My close friends, Stella and Diana, were my biggest fans and cheerleaders; they never ceased to listen to my grumblings, reassure me, and give me a boost of motivation in times when I faltered. A host of coworkers strengthened my resolve to complete my goals by regularly inquiring of my progress and expressing their excitement and interest in my journey. Lastly, keeping in touch with my cohorts from Doctoral Residencies provided an important support network of individuals with the same goals and commitments in which we shared struggles and successes.