Date of Award



© 2017 Robert K. Carl

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Marilyn Newell

Second Advisor

Laura Bertonazzi

Third Advisor

Linda Mallory


Despite a mission statement containing a clear focus on individual leader development, multiple reports show that recent USMA graduates fell short in their performance as leaders of character. USMA has changed its leader development strategy to an outcomes-based program. Contemporary literature suggests that identity development should be the goal of any leadership program as a leader with a strong leadership identity will act in accordance with such an identity. Using criterion sampling the study utilized individual interviews to explore the experiences of cadet company commanders who served in the fall semester of 2016. This phenomenological qualitative study found first, the essence of the cadet experience included group influences, developmental influences, developing self, changing view of self with others, and a broadening view of leadership and follows contemporary leadership identity models. Second, the USMA experience appeared to reinforce a leader-centric view of groups and organizations and thereby delay development of interdependence. Third, when cadets served in challenging leadership positions over peers they realized they could not do it all themselves and developed into more trusting and confident leaders. Finally, the rotating active duty military staff and faculty significantly influenced the development of the majority of sampled cadets, and race and gender appeared to have played a role. Understanding how cadets develop a leadership identity and potentially remain motivated to act in accordance with that identity will go a long way in delivering the very best leaders for America’s Army.


Ed.D. Dissertation