This qualitative study examined how leadership studies academic department chairs’ leadership is influenced by their discipline and their professional identities as leadership educators. This study is an exploration of the alignment between leadership theories and practice. Two conceptual frameworks informed this study: (a) the leadership educator professional identity development (LEPID) model (Seemiller & Priest, 2015) and (b) the four frames model (Bolman & Deal, 2017). Using the LEPID model, this study investigated the intersection of leadership education professional identity dimensions and the leadership role of the leadership studies academic department chairs. Bolman and Deal’s (2017) four frames model was used to explore how structural, human resource, political, and symbolic forces in academic department contexts influence department chairs’ leadership styles, which then align with or contradict their professional identities as leadership educators and expectations of the role. The main research question for this study was: How do leadership studies academic department chairs demonstrate congruence between the leadership theories they teach and how they practice leadership in their department chair role? The subquestions for this study were focused on the influence of department chairs’ leadership educator identities on their leadership styles, the exploration of their decision-making processes through the four frames lens, and how or if chairs applied theoretical models of leadership in their leadership roles. The study includes interviews of 12 participants, and the findings shed light on the alignment between participants’ professional identity as leadership educators and their leadership role as academic department chairs of leadership studies departments. This study illuminated the intersection of leadership studies department chairs’ commitment to resilient values and adaptable strategies. The practical implication of this study can be utilized to create a holistic, integrated, and multiframe leadership education curriculum that can equip academic leaders to respond to the turbulent and changing circumstances of higher education landscape. By focusing on the research of leadership theories, practices, and outcomes, this study contributes to the field of leadership studies and organizational behavior.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Educational leadership; Leadership--Education, Higher; Organizational behavior

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Kent Rhodes