Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The emotional intelligence of successful African American women leaders
by Grissette-Banks, Monique, Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2014, 176; 3608082
Abstract (Summary)

African American women leaders (AAWLs) experience obstacles and barriers in their quest to ascend to the highest leadership levels in U.S.-based organizations. These obstacles include intersectional oppression in the form of gendered racism, outsider status, invisibility, tokenism, stereotypes, and subordination. In the face of these challenges, AAWLs have ascended to the highest levels of leadership in U.S. workplaces. Many studies on AAWLs explore the coping mechanisms and relational strategies employed to enter, execute, and succeed in workplace leadership roles. This study explored their emotional intelligence; the non-cognitive traits, skills, and abilities that enable AAWLs to create success in their lives. This study enables comprehension of the emotional mechanisms African American women (AAW) use to lead in the face of obstacles to their ascension to high-level leadership roles.

Forty-two AAWLs, who have held leadership positions for a minimum of 3 years at the director level or three levels from the top of an organization, participated in this mixed-methods study. The Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) was administered to these leaders to assess their emotional-social functioning. Bar-On's (1997) model of emotional-social intelligence served as the basis for this 133-item, self-report inventory. To complement this quantitative assessment and to insert a Black feminist approach to the research, AAWLs participated in teleconference-styled focus groups in which they revealed their self-defined perceptions about their emotional intelligence and the ways those emotional-social traits, skills, and abilities create success in their leadership experience.

Emotional-social functioning of the African American women leaders (AAWLs) in the study was atypically advanced. Assessment results revealed assertiveness and independence as strengths. These leaders perceived themselves to be successful, but identified interpersonal relationship-building as an opportunity for growth. This exploration of the emotional intelligence of AAWLs expands our understanding of the non-cognitive abilities, skills, and traits employed by these leaders in their efforts to navigate complex organizational dynamics and to fulfill high- level leadership roles.

Keywords: African American women, emotional intelligence, leadership

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mink, Barbara P.
Commitee: Livers, Ancella, McCall, Mary E., Murphy-Shigematsu, Stephen, Reaux, David A.
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: The School of Human and Organization Development
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Womens studies, Organizational behavior
Keywords: African-American, Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Women leaders
Publication Number: 3608082
ISBN: 9781303659317
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