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A Leadership Transition: An Examination of the Transition from Face-to-Face Leadership to Remote Leadership in a Retail Sales Context Open Access

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This exploratory interpretive study investigated the lived experience of ten leaders that had recently transitioned from a face-to-face leadership role to a remote leadership role. The main research question was, “What is the lived experience of the leader who has transitioned from face-to-face leadership to remote leadership in a retail sales context?” Study participants met the following criteria: (1) work for an organization that utilizes a “remote supervision” structure, whether this goes by the term district, region, area, territory, or similar; (2) have supervisory responsibility for at least six separate and distinct locations, but fewer than 25 locations; (3) have supervisory responsibility for locations with a minimum of 10 employees, but a maximum of 100 employees; (4) have transitioned from a face-to-face leadership context to a remote leadership context; and (5) have been in the new remote leadership role for at least six months but no longer than 39 months. These criteria are important and were selected specifically for their alignment with the conceptual frame.Interviews were conducted with the leaders to learn how they experienced the transition from one role to another. These interviews were conducted using the Seidman (2013) method. The process for representing the data and interpreting the data consisted of five main parts in alignment with an interpretive phenomenological approach, or IPA (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009).There were four key conclusions from this study: (1) the leaders were able to adapt to their new leadership context as a result of their transition experience; (2) there were common leadership style balances for leaders in this study; (3) the leaders realized that there were subtle, but important communication differences in the remote context; and, (4) trust plays a unique role in remote, transactional leadership. Implications for theory include a new understanding of the balance of transformational and transactional leadership in the remote context. Recommendations for practice include potential new approaches for human resource practitioners.

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