Scott J. Allen, PhD

Scott Allen was one of the first students to earn his PhD in Leadership and Change when Antioch introduced the program 17 years ago. Now, he spends his life teaching others how to blaze a trail in their field.

Allen is an associate professor at Ohio’s John Carroll University, where he teaches courses in leadership, management skills, and executive communication. His primary research focuses on leadership development, a topic on which he has co-authored several books and peer-reviewed articles, and led speaking engagements. He also works as a consultant, facilitates workshops, and leads retreats across industries: universities, federal banks, insurance and medical, to name a few.

He was earning his master’s in human resource development and heard about Antioch’s new PhD program in leadership and change.

“I fell in love with the fact that faculty are working professionals who balance theory and practice,” he said. “It was an easy decision for me.”

While he said the program was challenging and took him to his edge, faculty met him where he was as a 25-year-old student.

“They were there for my growth and development,” he said. “A lot of leadership development is sitting in a room talking about it, not practicing. Or if you are out practicing leadership, there’s little feedback for growth. At Antioch, I got to pursue what I had a passion for within the framework of the program.”

He envisioned continuing in corporate organizational development but instead moved to Cleveland and took a year off to write and explore what would be his next path. During that time, he taught a couple of courses and did some consulting and coaching in the community.

“I discovered I had a huge reservoir of energy for being in the classroom,” he said. When he received the offer for an appointment at John Carroll University, his career trajectory shifted. He’s been there since.

“The Antioch PhD program solidified my passion for leadership and provided a foundation of knowledge and challenged me to explore where my energy was⁠—being in the classroom and writing,” he said. “Before it was scary to think about writing a dissertation. I built my identity through faculty support and encouragement.”

Allen is also the chair and co-founder of the Collegiate Leadership Competition and has served on the board of several other leadership organizations.

What moves him to do the work he does is the ability to translate leadership concepts so people can put them into action quickly.

“A lot of textbooks are corporate and don’t translate where students are,” he said. “As a junior in college, it doesn’t resonate with lived reality.”

He cited six leadership styles listed in the Harvard Business Review that can be applied in any setting. “These styles apply to fraternities and sororities, student government, interns, athletic teams,” he said. “By reframing the level at which you are providing examples, you can quickly and more easily be relevant. You just need to change the context.”

Allen enjoys that his classes are small, giving him the ability to build relationships. “I understand students’ goals and challenges,” he said. “I get to know them as people. I love working with young men and women with a career ahead of them to get them started on a great foot.”

Allen believes everyone has growth potential.

“Whether it’s cooking, playing soccer, or giving a presentation you can get better in any of those domains,” he said. “You can improve from where you are if you have the motivation to learn and developmental readiness.”

Click here to view Dr. Allen’s new textbook Discovering Leadership, Designing Your Success. 

Review copies are available upon request by contacting Dr. Allen at [email protected].