Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Colbert, Amy

First Committee Member

Brown, Kenneth

Second Committee Member

Li, Ning

Third Committee Member

Stewart, Greg

Fourth Committee Member

Kraimer, Maria


Billions of dollars are invested annually on leadership development interventions within organizations. And while these leadership development programs are generally effective, as evidenced by meta-analytic findings, researchers and organizational leaders alike are perplexed by the fact that some individuals’ leadership abilities do not show improvement after participating in a leadership development program. Drawing from social psychology and implicit person theory, I extend implicit self-theory into the leadership domain to examine leadership mindset, the belief an individual has about the malleability of leadership ability, and its relationship to leadership growth. Individuals with a more incremental leadership mindset believe that through hard work and effort they can improve their leadership ability. Individuals with a more fixed mindset, conversely, believe that leadership ability cannot be purposefully changed. Implicit self-theory would suggest that individuals with a more incremental mindset will have more leadership growth than individuals with a more fixed leadership mindset. Using self-regulation theory as a foundation, I propose that the effect of leadership mindset on leadership growth will be transferred through three mechanisms: negative feedback-seeking, reflection, and fear of failure. I also hypothesize that the relationship between these mediators and leadership growth will be stronger for leaders who have more developmental opportunities. Thus, I hypothesize a second-stage moderated mediation effect whereby the effect of leadership mindset on leadership growth through negative feedback-seeking, reflection, and fear of failure is stronger when individuals have more developmental opportunities.


Fear of Failure, Feedback-Seeking, Leadership, Leadership Development, Mindset, Reflection


viii, 162 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 132-144).


Copyright 2016 Sheryl L. Walter