Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Third Advisor

Ronda Root


Problem. The topic of this study is creative leadership and how it is developed. Three creative leadership development institutes were studied to determine how each provided leadership development: Leadership Development Institute on the campus of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida; International Center for Creative Leadership on the campus of Buffalo State College at University of New York, in Buffalo, New York; and the Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The purpose of this study is to describe the approach and specific components of these three leadership development programs that attempt to deliver training that produces leaders who practice creative leadership.

Method. The data gathered for this research came from personal site visits to the three leadership institutes, interviews with faculty and staff at each institute, observations of faculty, review of documents, faculty lectures, faculty meetings, institute web pages, and followup phone calls once the site visits were completed. Experts in the field of creativity, leadership, innovation, and creative leadership were studied through current literature, articles, blogs, and on-line publications.

Results. The findings from this study illuminate how three different types of creative leadership development are designed, developed, and delivered. Each site held that effective leaders are those who embody creativity and the creative process and therefore lead from an emerging future. A core component to the teaching and learning opportunities at each of the sites was that faculty and staff drew a deep connection between leadership and creativity, what Kahane considers necessary for future vision and forging new ground. Each site retained a faculty that was committed to creating and sustaining a culture of creativity where participants were taught how forgiveness ignites the creative process and allows individuals to hold an open mind, heart, and will. Other vital components included a living-system approach to leadership, shared language, and specific creativity models where the collective intelligence and creative capacity could be accessed. All three sites used different creativity models as the framework for creative problem solving. Creative models served as a way to access and enhance dynamic feedback loops and create a framework for a living system where the group could collectively engage in creative problem solving. The practices and processes at all three sites aligned with Scharmer’s Theory U. This theory considers creative leadership to be a living system that accesses everyone within the group. Such an approach is highly effective and relevant due to its focus on aligning the leader to their authentic self. Theory U provides a framework where leaders can lead on all four levels: self, group, institution, and community. Perhaps the most compelling testimony to each site’s commitment to creativity, leadership, and creative leadership is the fact that each of these sites was founded by different people for different reasons and in a different time. Yet today each site stands for the same purpose, which is to help leaders from the world over to access their creative capacity and leadership potential in order to access the full potential of an emerging future and bring relevant answers to an increasingly complex and threatening world.

Conclusions. The findings from this study provide deeper understanding into creative leadership, how it is developed, and how such an approach has the potential to ignite the full potential of a leader and the group they lead. Such findings are valuable in a time when the complexities of today’s world require a new type of leaders who can transcend patterns of the past in order to vision and realize a new future.

Subject Area

Christian leadership, Leadership.