Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 67, Issue 5, pp 505–513 | Cite as

Female Leadership Styles: Insights from Catholic Women Religious on Leading through Compassion

  • Jennifer N. Fiebig
  • Jennifer Christopher


This study focuses on the intersection of Catholic women religious (sisters) and their leadership practices and styles in order to examine traits that can be attributed to effective leadership. In contrast to previous studies that only distributed questionnaires, the researchers interviewed, had verbal conversations with, and transcribed the personal narratives of 119 Catholic women religious. The descriptive as well as qualitative results indicated that these women possessed significant leadership responsibilities, exhibited compassion toward others, guided people to experience personal growth, acted as role models, and aided in creating solutions to social justice issues. The women religious predominantly practiced transformational and servant leadership styles. The findings from these women religious can be applied and extrapolated to the general workforce. Effective leadership should include both transformational as well as servant leadership traits. These traits, often viewed as feminine skills, may be necessary attributes for exceptional leaders.


Women religious Sisters Catholic Female leadership Transformational and servant leadership styles 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPasadena City CollegePasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Loyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

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