Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Audrey Rabas, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sisay Teketele, D.M.

Third Advisor

Deborah A. Johnson-Blake, D.M.


Former research regarding leadership focused mainly on gender comparisons with limited research exploring women leaders independently. The purpose of this study was to understand how women entrepreneurs describe and interpret their leadership experiences as entrepreneurs, to understand how women entrepreneurs describe success, and to further understand what perceived impact leadership styles have on women’s entrepreneurial success. The study answered three questions regarding how women entrepreneurs describe and interpret their experiences as leaders, how women entrepreneurs describe their success as entrepreneurs and what perceived impact leadership style has on their success. Transformational, organizational, and servant leadership theories guided this study’s framework. A qualitative phenomenological study was conducted with open-ended interviews and focus groups to collect data regarding how women leaders view their leadership and success. Responses were obtained from 20 women entrepreneurs between the ages of 25 and 44. Data was analyzed by coding transcriptions for common themes which included emotions, making a difference, and freedom expressed amongst the participants. The study provides an understanding of women entrepreneurs and highlighted that the leadership characteristics the women displayed were mainly associated with transformational leadership. The most common theme related to success was having the opportunity to make a difference and participants reported a perceived impact of leadership style on success, in that transformational leadership was perceived to positively impact entrepreneurial success. In totality, more research needs to be conducted to determine how women are learning to become leaders and if the pursuit of leadership has influenced women’s thoughts and beliefs regarding success.

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