Why the President of a Leadership Company is Earning a PhD in Leadership from a Bible College

by Kelsey Madas

May 15, 2019

Tracey Jones (’19) has held many titles over her lifetime. Author, speaker, business owner, veteran, entrepreneur, researcher – the list could go on. But the one sums them all up is this: leader. So it makes sense that one of her most recent pursuits has landed her in the college’s Doctor of Philosophy in leadership program.

“Earning a Ph.D. has been a dream of mine since childhood,” said Tracey. “This program has taught me so much about myself – how I learn, how I lead, who are my ideal followers – and areas I need to improve upon.” So why did she choose LBC for her doctoral studies? “As a trustee at LBC, I heard about the doctorate in leadership and I just knew it was time to begin the journey,” she said. Tracey has another significant connection to LBC – the Charles and Gloria Jones library is named after her parents, longtime supporters and friends of the college. Studying at the institution that meant so much to her family and to Tracey herself seemed like a natural fit.

In her 9 to 5 job (or maybe round-the-clock is a better description) Tracey runs Tremendous Leadership, a publishing company and consulting business. Over the years, she’s expanded the company’s offerings to include keynote and motivational speaking, children’s books, individual coaching, board training, and strategic planning– making the lessons she’s learning the classroom all the more relevant to her day to day life. “I went through some significant challenges in the business during my coursework,” she explained, “And what I was learning and who I was learning it with was a huge help in navigating the issues. I have decades of experience in various industries, however, studying the grounded academic research explaining why and how leadership happens produced recurring epiphanies for me.” Part of the reason Tracey decided to earn her doctoral degree was her client base. “When I took over Tremendous Leadership, I found myself speaking to groups who had a fair number of Ph.D. recipients in the audience,” she said. “I knew if I wanted to continue to cultivate and produce top-notch leadership content, I needed to earn the terminal degree.”

The culmination of the college’s Ph.D. in leadership is the doctoral dissertation – a vigorous reading, writing and research project that is a student’s original contribution to the academic world.  It’s an intimidating task that takes years. At Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School, students are pushed to choose a dissertation topic that directly relates to their life and ministry. Because of Tracey’s years of consultant work with businesses and her experience in the military, she chose to research followership, crisis leadership, and motivation. “The title is Perceptions of Leader Effectiveness in an Organizational Crisis: A Case Study in Follower Self-Efficacy,” explained Tracey. “About halfway through the program, I became a bit exasperated at all the focus placed on leadership and began focusing my research on the role of the follower. With my experience in the military and with several high-stress industries, I also encountered numerous crises. Lastly, the theory of motivation or self-efficacy has always fascinated me. In short, what sparks some people to act with intentionality, while others do not?” She stated that it’s the intersection of those three areas that intrigue her.

When it comes to balancing her life and studies, Tracey said she felt like she had an “unfair advantage.” As it turns out, her chosen profession lends itself nicely to earning a degree in leadership. “As a leadership writer and personal development provider, everything I read, wrote, and produced in this program went directly into my blogs, speeches, power points, and even books,” said Tracey. “I have never had what I was studying be so congruent with what I was most passionate about,” she explained excitedly. “The program kept me incredibly relevant and cutting edge. I would often have participants be amazed at the depth of content I was able to provide, and I would always circle back to the coursework and my beloved LBC.”

Tracey says the lessons she’s learned in the classroom have been uniquely practical for her life and work. “Some of the most impactful things I’ve learned in the Ph.D. program is that change is led, not managed, that peacemaking is not the same as peacekeeping, and that being a leader and engaging in effective leadership are two very different skill sets,” she said. “Leadership, at its core, is lifelong learning and a willingness to be developed. If that doesn’t describe our walk in Christ, I don’t know what does. We have the Imago Dei in us, and the Holy Spirit delivers the gifting to provide us with supernatural talents.”

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