Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Scott Maltzie


Leadership, Distributed Leadership, Strategy, Framework


Business | Leadership Studies


The field of leadership has evolved quite drastically over the years. Douglas McGregor showed us the evolution from a Theory X style belief that employees are unmotivated and dislike their work to his Theory Y style belief that employees are motivated and receive a sense of enjoyment from their work. Abraham Maslow expanded on this work with his Theory Z belief that optimal employee performance would prevail with the proper leadership approach. For years now, leadership has focused on various approaches or styles that produce the best performance resulting from the relationship between the leader and their follower. Organizations, research, and literature alike have stagnated on this leader-follower relationship, placing the individual leader and their performance on a pedestal. If assigned a letter, this research would be Theory O for an organizational approach to leadership. It recognizes that need for organizations to create a leadership strategy instead views the role of leadership as the function of a collective unit. This research desired to offer a foundation in which leadership may continue to evolve by shifting the focus from understanding leadership as an individual experience to leadership as a collective group. This qualitative case study of 12 individuals from a retail organization's district and store manager levels offered a leadership framework. The utilization of ATLAS.ti for the coding of transcribed interviews revealed a theme that reflected alignment in participants' leadership approach of their organization's leadership framework. The remaining four themes reflected opportunities for improved performance under a leadership framework stemming from its execution. While results were unexpected, a foundation remains for the next evolution in leadership, the shift from the individual to the collective group.