Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Toms, Forrest


This research study identified the opportunity structure for developing senior health care leaders by comparing the key events and key lessons reported by senior health care leaders to the key drivers for leadership development reported by corporate leaders in previous lessons of experience studies conducted by researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Using a qualitative, phenomenological approach, the researcher conducted twenty audio-recorded semi-structured interviews with senior health care leaders and high potential employees at a major health care system and analyzed participants’ experiences using the lessons of experience (LOE) coding scheme developed by researchers at CCL. The results of this research study revealed that the key drivers for developing senior health care leaders are developmental relationships, challenging assignments, personal experiences and adverse situations, respectively. This result shows that senior health care leaders have learned to lead differently than corporate leaders who reported their key drivers in a different respective order: challenging assignments, developmental relationships, adverse situations, coursework and training and personal experiences. This study also found that overall, high potential employees’ developmental experiences were categorically the same as the senior health care leaders,’ though not to the same extent, and their sources of learning were somewhat different from senior health care leaders’ sources of learning. The major implication of this study shows that a focus on maximizing the developmental relationships will build leadership capacity in health care organizations.