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Start Date

30-4-2021 12:00 AM

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Department

Leadership and Organizational Studies

Faculty Mentor

Elizabeth Goryunova, PhD

Keywords

sensemaking, meaning-making, COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, 2020, presidential election, presidential campaign, leadership, crisis leadership

Abstract

The year 2020 engendered the COVID-19 pandemic, a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and a tense political season as the U.S. voted for its next president. The importance of leadership during such times of crisis, civil unrest, and uncertainty cannot be overstated, and its study has important implications for developing leaders of the future and designing effective leadership training.

This research employs the constructivist ideas of sensemaking and meaning-making as its lens to study leadership during the year 2020. There has been growing attention to this framework in academic scholarship, and literature suggests that these activities influence leaders’ response to and followers’ experiences with crisis. Sensemaking and meaning-making impact change management and decision-making, commitment and motivation in followers, and the effectiveness of leadership during crisis.

There is presently little to no scholarly research on leadership within the unique circumstances of 2020. Moreover, sensemaking and meaning-making respective to leadership practice is under researched, and further exploration would help gain perspective into the use of these activities especially during times of crisis and uncertainty.

This phenomenological, qualitative study explores how leaders make sense and meaning of the events of 2020 and how they communicate such understanding to their followers. Ten community leaders living in Maine were recruited via social media and email. They participated in a semi-structured Zoom interviews with the researcher. The coding and thematic analysis of interview content revealed recurrent themes related to sensemaking and meaning-making activities.

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Sensemaking and meaning-making in the U.S. in the year 2020 - transcript

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Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

Leadership: Sensemaking and meaning-making in the U.S. in the year 2020

The year 2020 engendered the COVID-19 pandemic, a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and a tense political season as the U.S. voted for its next president. The importance of leadership during such times of crisis, civil unrest, and uncertainty cannot be overstated, and its study has important implications for developing leaders of the future and designing effective leadership training.

This research employs the constructivist ideas of sensemaking and meaning-making as its lens to study leadership during the year 2020. There has been growing attention to this framework in academic scholarship, and literature suggests that these activities influence leaders’ response to and followers’ experiences with crisis. Sensemaking and meaning-making impact change management and decision-making, commitment and motivation in followers, and the effectiveness of leadership during crisis.

There is presently little to no scholarly research on leadership within the unique circumstances of 2020. Moreover, sensemaking and meaning-making respective to leadership practice is under researched, and further exploration would help gain perspective into the use of these activities especially during times of crisis and uncertainty.

This phenomenological, qualitative study explores how leaders make sense and meaning of the events of 2020 and how they communicate such understanding to their followers. Ten community leaders living in Maine were recruited via social media and email. They participated in a semi-structured Zoom interviews with the researcher. The coding and thematic analysis of interview content revealed recurrent themes related to sensemaking and meaning-making activities.

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