The Leadership Practices of African American Women and their Lived Experiences as Tall Poppies

Secondary Education    Principals/Superintendents

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TITLE The Leadership Practices of African American Women and their Lived Experiences as Tall Poppies
RESEARCHER Dewhanne Picou-Nyivih
LaFetra College of Education
University of La Verne (California)
Unpublished doctoral dissertation: August 2016

The primary purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify the leadership practices of African American women leaders.

The participants interviewed for this study were selected using snowball and purposive sampling methods based on a targeted audience, resulting in identification of 22 possibilities, of which 10 African-American women agreed to participate. Each participant needed to have been employed at least one year in a leadership position, held at least a master’s degree from a regionally accredited university, had a work-related experience of TPS (tall poppy syndrome), and had developed effective strategies in fostering positive workplace relationships; and five met these criterion. In addition to semi-structured interviews, participants completed the LPI.

Encourage and Model were the leadership practices with the highest average frequency, followed by Enable, Inspire, and Challenge; and all five scores were in above the 80% percentile in the Kouzes Posner normative database. Themes related to Encourage and Model were evident in 80 percent of the interviews with participants.

The author notes:

The first theme from CRT [critical race theory] counter-stories of African American women leaders and their lived experiences as TPs was their understanding that there was a (2a) fundamental lack of respect for the African American woman leader by way of questioning her abilities and authority both publically and privately. The second theme from CRT counter-stories was the participant’s experience of (2b) personal attacks while maligning the reputation of the TP in conjunction with sabotaging the credibility of the African American women leader (p. 110).