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Public Policy and Administration


Gary Kelsey


Although there are several robust leader development programs in the U.S. Army, no standardized access to leader development is provided to all service members at the start of their career. Forty-four percent of the Department of Defense (DoD) active duty personnel are 25 years of age or less. Despite this known experience gap, there is a shortfall in policy that ensures standardized access to leader development during this foundational period. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of service members who participated in the United States Army Pacific's Regional Leader Development Program-Pacific (RLDP-P) to inform DoD policy on leader development. The RLDP-P and its unique participant composition provided the conceptual framework and transformational leadership provided the theoretical framework for this study. Semistructured interviews of 16 RLDP-P participants were used to identify scalable and feasible elements of the program that positively impacted the service members' professional goals. Data were analyzed using inductive coding to identify the study's major themes. This study's central research question addressed the RLDP-P's impact on the participants' professional goals. The findings revealed the program inspired participants to create or refine their professional goals, increased their desire for self-development, and motivated them to develop others. Policy recommendations to the DoD for future leader development programs include diversity of mentor engagements in a small group environment and exposure to professional broadening opportunities. These findings will inform future DoD policy on standardized access to leader development from the start of service members' careers.

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