The primary focus of this qualitative study was to explore how senior military veteran leaders (SMVLs) employed Senge’s (1990) five core disciplines to building a learning organization. The study investigated strategies for SMVLs to use after their transition from the military into civilian leadership roles. Senge’s (1990) five learning disciplines of personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking are utilized as the theoretical framework. The researcher employed qualitative research by examining SMVL narratives. The researcher examined nonhuman subjects to ensure anonymity. Narratives were located from numerous publicly accessible data sources (published books, news articles, magazines, journals, websites, and social media) to ensure diversity. These five core disciplines have been incorporated into many organizations worldwide with much success. Organizations such as Ford, Hewlett-Packard, British Petroleum, Harley Davidson, and Intel showed positive results by incorporating Senge’s core disciplines (Senge, 1990).

This study identified leadership strategies for transitioning from a SMVL to a civilian leader by utilizing Senge’s (1990) five corps disciplines. The five primary themes emerged as 12 significant subthemes as being utilized by most of the SMVLs studied within their civilian organization. First, systems thinking strategies include looking at the big picture, examining interrelationships, and considering long- and short-term consequences of actions. Second, personal mastery strategies include continuously increasing their own and other’s capabilities and having insight of self-knowledge and understanding. Third, mental model strategies include being aware of generalizations, images, and assumptions that influence our actions; and having the capability to reflect on those actions. Fourth, shared vision strategies include creating an image of the desired future, and outlining the organization’s governing ideas, core values, and purpose. Fifth, team learning strategies include aligning the skills and capacities of teams to create the desired results and cultivating a collective desire to create something new.

Further research of additional veteran groups could provide additional leadership strategies for veterans transitioning into civilian leadership roles. Additionally, service members worldwide could also benefit from future studies. Last, a mixed-method or quantitative study could explore a larger number of veterans, which could generate crucial additional data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Organizational learning; Veteran reintegration; Veterans—Leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



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Faculty Advisor

Laura Hyatt