Leadership in higher education through the lens of the performing arts

This qualitative narrative research study drew upon a case study approach and utilized face-to-face interviews to explore and understand the personal and professional lives of higher education leaders with performing arts backgrounds through the two conceptual lenses of transformational leadership and emotional intelligence. Seidman’s (2013) reflective interview process was utilized to guide the research process. This study found four primary themes: 1) Challenges for participants; 2) Skills and qualities related to participants’ stories; 3) Opportunities participants encountered; 4) Mentoring experiences. Each of the four primary themes had a secondary theme: 1) Change/transformation for Theme One; 2) Openness/flexibility/trust for Theme Two; 3) Performance/risk-taking for Theme Three; 4) Solution-oriented/problem-solving for Theme Four. Understanding skills and qualities shared by higher education leaders with performing arts backgrounds will add to the existing body of knowledge about performing artists and higher education administrators, as well as create an understanding to facilitate leadership development in higher education administration.