Becoming Undefended
: Developing leaders who are freed from fear

  • Simon Walker

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This context statement describes the innovation, delivery, application and extension over a twelve year period, of a novel contribution to leadership development: Undefended Leader training. The context statement is structured around a reflective evaluation of my praxis, methodology and original technologies which were developed for this training. The evolution of the training and its applications is examined through three reflective learning cycles.

The first cycle focuses on the original context for which the training was developed: Evangelical Christian leadership. The processes which enabled leaders to confront and move beyond their fears and defensiveness, in order to become more undefended, are described. Extensive participant feedback, formal evaluations, peer references and secondary literature is used to evaluate the impact of the training. The second cycle describes applications of this approach, beyond Christian leadership, in corporate leadership. Connections with existing models, theories and practices of leadership development are described. Utilisation of undefended leadership ideas by wider practitioners reflects impact in this discipline. The final cycle describes the application of a human ecology model to schools through an original curriculum Footprints. The impact of this in developing a new generation of undefended leaders is outlined and pupil feedback is included.

Each cycle is viewed through the lenses of reflexive autobiography, learners’ perspectives on the journey of becoming undefended, peer dialogue with my approach and connection to a wider relevant research literature. Throughout, my own narrative of becoming undefended is offered as an accompanying backdrop to exemplify the challenges and process of embodying this approach.
Date of AwardMay 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorJune Boyce-Tillman (Supervisor) & Karen Blakeley (Supervisor)

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