The 12 Steps of Addiction Recovery Programs as an influence on leadership development: a personal narrative

Mitchell Friedman 1
  • 1 University of San Francisco, P. O. Box 460642, San Francisco, CA 94146-0642, United States of America


My participation in a 12-step addiction program based on the principles and traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been critical for my leadership development. As I worked to refrain from addictive behaviors and practiced 12-step principles, I experienced a shift from individualistic, self-centered leadership towards a servant leader orientation. I thus consider the 12-step recovery process, which commenced in 2001, a leadership formative experience (LFE) as it had the greatest influence on my subsequent development. My experience of thinking about and rethinking my life in reference to leadership and followership lends itself to a personal inquiry. It draws on work on the12 steps; self-assessments and personal journal entries; and memory of life events. I aim to contribute to the leadership development literature by exploring the influence of participation in a 12-step recovery program and posing it as an LFE, subjects that have received little attention.

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