Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Lydia Forsythe


Leadership is an important part of creating effective public organizations. Effective leaders have the potential to produce social change through positive follower and organizational outcomes, the development of important policies, and efficiently implementing public policy. The scholarly literature lacks research concerning how leadership styles translate to the public sector. The theoretical framework used to guide and support this study was Cooperrider and Whitney's appreciative inquiry. The research question explored in what ways public sector leaders affect how followers perceive themselves as social change agents in a local city-county health department. For this phenomenological study, 10 followers employed by a local city-county health department in central Oklahoma provided perception data regarding details of their lived experiences with public sector leadership. Thematic coding was utilized to analyze the data. Key findings included support for transformational and servant leadership theories. Elements of these theories that followers found important included supporting, empowering, and valuing followers. Through good public leadership, important public policies goals can be attained which have the potential to produce positive social change through dynamic public organizations focused on social responsibility, trust in government, and customer service. Public organizations can use the findings to build a motivated, inspired, and committed public workforce.