Achieving personal and leadership authenticity in the workplace: understanding the lived experiences of African American women leaders

by Wiggs Harris, Wylecia, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2011, 328 pages; 3457130


Authenticity and authentic leadership are garnering increased emphasis in the workplace. This study explored authentic leadership and authentic leadership development through the lens of African American women leaders working in dominant culture organizations. Research demonstrates that African American women leaders experience unique challenges in their leadership roles and often employ cultural adaptation strategies such as biculturalism to navigate dominant culture organizations. This qualitative study used a transcendental phenomenological approach to examine how African American women leaders achieved personal and leadership authenticity in the workplace. Using a lifestories conceptualization of authentic leadership development, the experiences of 12 African American women leaders were examined to determine how their life-stories informed their leadership perspectives and journey to authentic leadership development. The research findings showed that participants‘ responses to historical trigger events and to personal difficulties were significant to their self-concept formation and authentic leadership development journey. Further, the research suggested that participants consistently conceptualized authenticity as either being true to self or true to their core values, and results associated a positive values orientation with the authentic leadership construct. Finally, the research findings demonstrated that workplace authenticity emerged for the 12 women leaders from the intersection of their personal essence as African American women with their leadership identity to create the authentic self they were comfortable sharing in the workplace.

AdviserShelley R. Robbins
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Women's studies; Management
Publication Number3457130

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