This qualitative phenomenological study set forth to discover the lived experience associated with being a leader. The researchers recruited four executive level leaders from multiple emergency and public service organizations to participate in the study. To discover how different leaders interpreted their lived experience of becoming or being a leader, the researchers employed a phenomenological design, allowing for a rich understanding of the participants’ experience. The coding and data analysis process revealed multiple themes from the words of the participantsThe implications of this study address the lived experience of leadership. It also adds to academic leadership theory and assists in developing a pathway for strengthening leadership development and/or education.


R. Jeffrey Maxfield

Dr. R. Jeffery (Jeff) Maxfield is a professor in the Emergency Services Department and recently served as Associate Dean over the School of Public Services and Director of the Institute of Emergency Services and Homeland Security at Utah Valley University. He is a retired Chief Operations Officer (COO) of a large metropolitan fire department, with approximately 25 years of service. Dr. Maxfield serves on the executive board of the International Society for Prevention, Resilience, and Security (INSPRS). He is the author of many peer reviewed articles, books, and presentations. Dr. Maxfield has a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Utah State University and a Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University. His research interests are leadership and adult education and he loves spending time with his family, fly-fishing, golf, cycling and cooking.

Eric J. Russell

Dr. Eric J. Russell is an Associate Professor with Utah Valley University’s Department of Emergency Services. His writings and research involve the impact and influence of servant leadership on organizations and individuals. He is the author of more than 50 peer reviewed and trade publications as well as two books: The Desire to Serve: Servant Leadership for the Fire and Emergency Services (Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership) and In Command of Guardians: Executive Servant Leadership for the Community of Responders (Springer Nature). Dr. Russell retired early from the Department of Defense/USAF Fire and Emergency Services with combined active duty military and DoD service. Dr. Russell’s education consists of a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (Grand Canyon University) and a Master of Science in Executive Fire Science Leadership (Grand Canyon University).

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Emergency Services Leadership: The Lived Experience

Suggested Citation

Maxfield, R. J. & Russell, E. J. (2017). Emergency services leadership: The lived experience. Journal of Homeland Security Education, 6, 1-13, https://jsire.org/emergency-services-leadership-the-lived-experience