Black Women Leaders: Going High in a World of Lows

Dequies A. Lanier, Troy University
Sonia J. Toson, Kennesaw State University
J. Celeste Walley-Jean, Clayton State University


The Problem: Although relevant to some leaders, existing leadership theories and frameworks lack sociocultural support for Black women leaders. Furthermore, despite its roots in developing people, the field of human resource development (HRD) has historically taken a hegemonic approach that does not support the leadership development of Black women. Current research in the field is limited in its application of sociocultural perspectives of leadership that explain the dilemmas of Black women leaders. This is a critical deficiency that is exacerbated in times of crises. The Solution: We examine the practical application of traditional theories such as transformational and servant leadership in relation to the social identity of Black women leaders. We propose a conceptual development framework that considers the foundations of transformational and servant leadership but applies a sociocultural lens that better aligns with the needs of the Black women leaders. We further conclude that sociocultural frameworks are needed within leadership development programs to support Black women leaders. The Stakeholders: HRD practitioners and researchers, Black women leaders in the workforce, and organizational leaders.