The role of resilience in the development and practice of leadership : a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry into the life of Viktor Frankl / by M. Philip Mathew
Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-302)
- External Link
Electronic version from ProQuest
The purpose of this study was to explore the role of human resilience in the development and practice of leadership through a hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of two of psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl's major texts, Man's Search for Meaning and Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning. To date, the majority of studies in human resilience have focused on its role in the development of children and adolescents, often through quantitative research methods. Studies into the lives of Holocaust survivors have often focused on pathological outcomes related to survival. The aim of this dissertation was to provide a deeper exploration of the resilience construct among adults from a qualitative research paradigm, with an emphasis on leadership studies, and particularly the philosophy of servant-leadership.The literature review explored the life and philosophy (logotherapy) of Viktor Frankl, the construct of resilience, including its definitions, historical development, and operationalization, and the origins, philosophical basis, and key concepts of servant-leadership. A hermeneutic dialogue with Frankl's writings was facilitated through an interpretive analysis of the two primary texts using hermeneutic phenomenological methodology, seeking to discover Frankl's understanding of the concept of resilience and its expression through his lived experience.The following thematic formulations emerged in the interpretative analysis of the Frankl's texts: (1) To face suffering is to be questioned by life; (2) Meaning is unconditional and enduring; (3) Resilience is fundamentally a transcendent act of the spirit; (4) Resilience reveals itself through attitudes of the heart and postures of the mind; and (5) Serving others in the midst of suffering is a life-affirming act. This study suggests that Frankl's lived experience reflected the concepts and components of resilience, as well as a response to unavoidable suffering rooted in the core concepts of servant-leadership.While the findings of this study substantiated much of the current research related to the proposed components and theoretical models of resilience, it also suggests a potential relationship between resilience and the philosophy of servant-leadership. Though generally absent among existing theories and models of resilience, the notion of serving others in the midst of suffering as a self-transcendent and life-affirming act that contributes to human resilience, versus an exclusive focus on the importance of receiving environmental and community support, points to a gap in the literature that might be further explored in future research. This study also offers suggestions to leaders who desire to engender resilience in the people and organizations they lead as well as potential pathways to enhance and deepen interior development.
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