First Advisor

Neal Wallace

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Transformational leadership, Mentoring, Organizational behavior, Executive coaching



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 171 pages)


Despite the proliferation of studies focused on transformational leadership, there is a lack of clarity related to how transformational leaders are developed in public organizations and the impact of mentors in this process. This is particularly troubling given a 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that over 44% of the current U.S. workforce is 45 years or older.

In public and private settings, organizations are challenged to develop the competencies critical at higher levels of management in their future leaders, specifically advanced human and conceptual skills. These skills are most useful for emerging leaders that will have the responsibilities to analyze difficult problems, engage and solicit feedback from staff, establish systematic processes, and deploy solutions throughout the organization. With an aging workforce and an increasing number of senior leaders eligible to retire, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has recognized the urgency to ingrain leadership development and succession planning into its agency-wide strategic and operational plans.

Utilizing complexity theory and social learning theory to better understand this phenomenon, this study examined the leadership development program of the Veterans Health Administration (the largest and most complex integrated health care system in the nation) to explore the role that senior-leader mentors have on developing a pipeline of competent and effective transformational leaders. Specifically, the study examines the impact that mentors that demonstrate four foundational transformational leadership (TL) behaviors: Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Individualized Consideration, and Intellectual Stimulation, have on the development of leadership skills and the demonstration of similar behaviors in the protégé.

Applying a cross-sectional survey methodology that included both correlation and regression analyses, the study assessed the impact of each of the mentor's TL characteristics on the development of protégé leadership capabilities. Results showed positive, significant relationships between each of the mentor's TL characteristics and the development of the protégé's human skills, conceptual skills, and corresponding TL characteristics. The results revealed that mentors that demonstrate TL characteristics facilitated the effective development and growth of their protégé. The results also showed that mentors that spent time with their protégé (ideally 4-6 hours/month) and purposefully introduced them to influential people or other key leaders in the organization helped them to develop key leadership skills.

This study contributes to the literature by strengthening researchers' theoretical understanding of how to develop transformational leadership skills and characteristics in protégé and suggest specific characteristics that organizations should incorporate into their formal mentoring programs to develop effective public organizational leaders.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier