Leadership Implications for Mid-level Intelligence Personal in the Air Force: A Qualitative Case Study

Leadership Implications for Mid-level Intelligence Personal in the Air Force: A Qualitative Case Study

Author: 
Denis Delaney
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
There is a general problem in the federal government and the military with morale and motivation problems that affect their capability to accomplish their mission. The specific problem in the intelligence headquarters involved the morale, motivation, and favoritism issues of personnel accomplishing the mission and how leadership styles affected the operations. The qualitative method and case study design were employed to study the problem. The research question was: What, if any, leadership style or styles of mid-level leaders motivate or affect morale for employees conducting intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance operations in the intelligence headquarters? The data collected for the case study included quantitative assessments from 2009 to 2014 and semi-structured interviews in 2015 to address the research question. NVivo software, manual coding, and analysis of the data provided by the participants produced categories to identify and describe what was in the data for content analysis. Themes emerged from the content analysis that enabled the interpretation of findings for the research question. The significance of the research findings suggested that mid-level leadership styles did influence and affect the morale and motivation on participants of the study. According to the participants of the case study, the leadership styles of mid-level leaders were broadly defined as transactional with varied use of rewards, laissez-faire with diverse practices from micromanagement to fire and forget, and transformational that sometimes could not deliver on promised follower support. A significant finding was how negative influence led to issues with morale, motivation, and job disengagement.
Dedication: 
I will begin by saying the biggest thank you and dedication must go to my wife, Karen, for her love and support throughout this process. Her experience and judgment were invaluable; she always went the extra mile when I had to spend hours in the home office on evenings and weekends. Her positive attitude enabled me to complete my doctoral journey. Thank you for sharing this journey my love! I would also like to dedicate this to my parents who raised me to understand Respect, Just Do It, and Know Your Audience. The drive and determination to Just Do It was tested many times during the doctoral process; but, I learned in the military as a budding fighter pilot that I could always count on the life lessons my parents taught me early in life to get me through the tough times. Finally, thank you to all of my family, friends, facilitators, peers I went through the program with, and especially to the men and women of the intelligence headquarters who participated in this case study. I would like to dedicate this to you for the support, mentoring, and understanding that helped me achieve this goal.
Acknowledgements: 
My sincerest thanks and appreciation go to my dissertation chair Yvonne Phelps, Ph.D., and committee members Valerie Davis, Ph.D., and Ronald Heuss, Ed.D., for their unwavering support and mentoring in the dissertation process. Their wisdom, guidance, patience, and volunteering to support me throughout the doctoral process was exceptional. A special thanks is required for Dr. Davis for her encouragement and fellowship as I attempted to navigate the ins and outs of the process. Also to Dr. Heuss who accepted my third committee member position when I was about ready to give up, and Dr. Phelps for her outstanding support. I could not have asked for a better chair. The dissertation would not have been possible without the support and sponsorship of then Major General John Shanahan, Commander of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency (AF ISR Agency). His seniorlevel leadership, support, and guidance made it possible to gather the data and interview his personnel to understand how mid-level leadership styles affect morale and motivation in his organization. His ShanaGrams communicated his vision and guidance to his airmen; I hope this dissertation will answer some of the questions Lieutenant General Shanahan, Director for Defense Intelligence has concerning how to deal with morale, motivation, and favoritism issues in ISR operations as he continues to lead warriors. Finally, to Dr. Rich Schuttler, your dissertation expertise and dedication to students are unmatched. To Dr. Ruby Daniels, thank you for making APA understandable, and to all the facilitators and my doctoral learner cohorts that I met along the way. I gratefully and sincerely acknowledge the impact you had on my scholarly thought process and how I will lead in the future...thank you, all!