Updated: Apr 1
Enin M. Rudel, Brandi Derr, Miranda Ralston, Terrence Williams, Aprille Young
The leadership of Black male leaders is an under-studied topic in the leadership literature and more so in the field of human resource development. Moreover, traditional and contemporary leadership theories are universalized and have not adequately captured social and emotional issues encountered by leaders within their social identity location. A closer examination of this phenomenon is needed to close the gap in the human resource development literature as well as contemporary leadership theory.
A qualitative study was used to examine the experiences of Black male leaders in an organizational setting using the frameworks of emotional intelligence and social architecture. Findings suggest that emotional intelligence explains why Black male leaders desire mentorship, need increased organizational support for psychological safety, use specialized strategies to deal with social and emotional distress, face barriers to acculturation into the workplace culture, draw on authentic leadership skills to face obstructions to leadership, and use code-switching to navigate multiple identities. Recommendations are made for more inclusive mentoring programs that consider the needs of this underrepresented group.
HRD researchers, scholars, educators, practitioners, organizational leaders and others involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
Leadership is a social phenomenon that generally assumes a homogenous model of a leader who is typically White and male. This perception challenges the leadership of the Black male whose identity as a leader is shaped by a socio-historical and sociocultural identity. Black male leadership in predominantly White workplaces is complicated by simultaneously overcoming stereotypical images of blackness while struggling to gain equal status with White counterparts. Consequently, Black males must navigate their leadership roles with Emotional Intelligence (EI) and social competence. In the process of navigating social identity in predominantly White organizations, Black males [may] experience two-ness, that is the effect of experiencing distinctly different social identities and explains how Black male leaders are influenced in complex and varied ways in their social environment (Brannon et al., 2015). The ubiquitous nature of two-ness essentially encourages the formation of two separate dialects. Thus, Black male leaders must learn to oscillate between the two dialectic approaches, an experience that can be emotionally and socially stressful. Therefore, emotional intelligence will be explored as an under-studied phenomenon for the effective leadership experiences of Black males.
Numerous scholars have contributed to research on emotional intelligence since Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) benchmark research. For example, Van Rooy and Viswesvaran (2004) conceptualized emotional intelligence “as a set of abilities (verbal and nonverbal) that enable a person to generate, recognize, express, understand, and evaluate their own, and others, emotions as a guide to thinking and action that successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures” (p. 72). However, it was Goleman (1995) who associated emotional intelligence with leadership. Therefore, we propose that emotional intelligence, motivation, self-regulation, self-awareness, and empathy, are social skills needed to navigate the environmental (organizational) demands of being a Black male leader in predominantly White organizations.
An emotionally intelligent leader (regardless of race, gender, culture, or ethnicity) makes a more effective organizational social architect (Krishnan, 2005). A social architect “encompasses the ability to serve as a cultural interpreter who helps others understand the diﬀerent cultural norms and perspectives involved in situations” (Gardenswartz et al.,
2010, p. 79). Moreover, EI is central to establishing a healthy organizational architectural design.
An environment that encourages, acknowledges, and accepts the social identity of the leader is likely to support the development and growth of that individual in their role of leadership. Engagement of Black leaders is correlated with White employee’s endorsement of organizational multiculturalism (Zou & Cherryan, 2015). This is critical because not only is there a shortage of Black leaders (US DOL), but they are also generally underpaid relative to White leaders within and outside of their own organizations (Obradovic, 2018). Some may have even come up from the lower ranks of the organization and may still hold the values of the lower-level work groups they belonged to (Ashforth & Kreiner, 1999). They are essentially trying to hold down at least two incompatible ideologies, afraid of potentially exposing stigmas and emotional vulnerabilities (Miller & Kaiser, 2001). This leads to feelings of betrayal (Pelled et al., 1999), awkward interpersonal conflicts with staff (McRae & Short, 2010), avoidance (Kreiner et al., 2006), the feeling of being scapegoated (Mayer & Gavin, 2005), and questioning of their sense of self (Jetten, Spears, & Postmes, 2004).
In this article, the consequences of social identity in the experiences of the Black male leader relates to the way they are perceived (especially by White colleagues), and occurrences of emotional and social suffering from discriminatory acts. This article will examine the relationship between EI, organizational social architecture, and Black male leadership. The research questions examined are: What is the impact of emotional intelligence (EI) on a Black male leader’s ability to act as an organizational social architect? How might emotional intelligence inform the leadership of the Black male leader?
A Review of the Literature
Each of the 4 HRD journals: Advances in Developing Human Resources, Human Resource Development Review, Human Resource Development Quarterly, and Human Resource Development Review were reviewed for studies on Black male leaders across all published Issues using the keywords Black male, leaders (or leadership) in the title. The search yielded no results. Therefore, the existing HRD literature was not an informed source for this study. Widening the search across all available institutional databases using the keywords Black male and leader (or leadership) was more fruitful. This search yielded the following major areas that have studied Black males, leadership, social identity, and emotional intelligence: coping behaviors, sense of self, and social identity.
Moseley et al. (2017) concluded that given the ubiquitous nature of racism against Blacks in general, the socio-cultural context produces a cultural mistrust. Working in social contexts that are marginalizing or oppressive, Black males tend to “develop self-consciousness about the ways in which others view them” (p. 166) and as a result they cope by avoidance or seeking invisibility. This causes Black males to acquire coping mechanisms that endorse paranoid-like behaviors. To counteract the oppressive nature of marginalized experiences, Black males draw on cultural strengths to reframe or make meaning of the experience as part of the environment rather than a result of their social identity. Emotional intelligence could assist Black male leaders to make meaning of their experiences in a manner that does not hinder their effectiveness as leaders.
Sense of Self
Vann et al. (2017) concluded that diverse leaders must possess a strong sense of self and leverage their EI so that they can navigate potentially challenging situations. The researchers examined the interplay between one’s self-evaluation and three self-leadership strategies: behavior-focused, natural reward, and constructive thought pattern. “Diverse leaders are tasked with making decisions, problem solving, and leading organizations” (p.18). The researchers also noted that “emotions, attitudes, and behaviors may have an impact on leader success” (p.18). Therefore, emotional intelligence plays a key role in the effectiveness of leaders of color.
Possessing a comprehensive view of self, a process referred to as affirmative introspection, is critical to gaining insight and perspective on oneself in the work environment (Gardenswartz et al., 2010). Affirmative introspection is useful to describe the challenges that Black males face in organizational contexts where they must balance multiple identities. First overcoming the perception of a social identity of Blackness and next trying to achieve the equal acceptance of leadership afforded to White counterparts. In response to this dilemma, Black males often create an internal dialogue with self and simply “show up” in the workplace. Thus, Black male leaders must learn to develop emotional intelligence to oscillate between the two dialectic approaches.
The concept of social identity is described by Vinney (2021) as the way the self is defined by the group/group membership. Vinney further breaks down this framework into 3 processes including: Social categorization (organizing people into groups based on similarities or separating people based on differences), social identification (investing in a group socially and adapting the culture/behavior of that group), and social comparison (determining social standing based on comparisons of their group to other groups) (2021).
In the context of the workplace, social identity’s resulting group membership impacts the way individuals are treated, their access to power, level of privilege, and how individuals work together (www.ywboston.org, 2020). Social identity theory becomes an experiential framework; determining how we experience the world based on our identity status as either privileged or disadvantaged (www.ywboston.org, 2020).
Emerson and Murphy (2014) take this discussion further by engaging the role of social identity in workplace prejudice and discrimination. They point to situational cues that either respect and affirm identity or threaten and devalue identity. This dynamic creates heightened vigilance for ethnic minorities, threatening psychological and identity safety. Emerson and Murphy (2014) suggest the need for organizations to address cues that may be perceived as threatening to identity by focusing on inclusive, equitable, and respectful environments to promote increased identity safety.
Emotional intelligence and social architecture are the informing frameworks for this study. Using Van Rooy and Viswesvaran’s (2004) definition, EI is “a set of abilities (verbal and nonverbal) that enable a person to generate, recognize, express, understand, and evaluate their own, and others, emotions as a guide to thinking and action that successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures” (p. 72).
Social architecture is a leader’s ability to develop an ecosystem consisting of engagement, meaning, performance, and growth (Vora, 2016). As the social architect, a leader’s tasks include: fostering meaningful, productive dialogue, establishing systems, and procedures, orchestrating processes and over-seeing decision- making. The emotionally intelligent Black male leader, as a social architect, is both self-reflective and socially aware. The leader in this context, understands the ways in which their psychosocial history can influence their perspective. Emotional intelligence, as a coping strategy, enables the Black male leader to effectively manage feelings of stress or anxiety.
This study was a qualitative research study that used interview methodology to explore participants’ interpretations of their experiences as Black Male Leaders. Rooted in a phenomenological approach, this study aimed to uncover and understand participants’ “conscious experience of their life-world, that is, their everyday life and social action” (Merriam, 2009, p. 25) within the context of being Black Male Leaders. Phenomenological research methodology was well-suited for researching this topic as the aim was to “understand several individuals’ common or shared experiences in order to develop practices or policies, or to develop a deeper understanding about the features of the phenomenon” (Creswell & Poth, 2018).
A total of 12 participants were interviewed in this study, ranging in ages from 40 to 54. Participants all identified as being Black males, were all employed on a full-time basis, and have been in a leadership capacity (supervisory responsibilities over two or more direct reports) for at least six months. The sample population was employed in various capacities including, CEO’s, Global Diversity & Inclusion Executive, Hospital Systems President, Pilot, MD’s, Lawyers, Company Presidents and Vice President of HR. One hundred percent of the participants completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Two participants currently held MD’s. Two participants were currently in pursuit of PsyD’s.
The participants were between the ages of 40-54, were Black males who were employed full-time, and had been in a leadership position (supervising at least 2 or more direct reports) for at least 6 months. They were employed in various capacities including: CEO, Global Diversity & Inclusion Executive, Hospital Systems President, Pilot, Medical Doctor, Lawyer, Company President, and VP of HR. All respondents had master’s degrees, two were medical doctors, and two were currently pursuing doctoral degrees in psychology.
Data Collection and Analysis
The data were collected through 60–90-minute interviews with the 12 Black Male Leaders using a semi-structured interview protocol. Semi-structured interview protocols allow for flexibility to probe deeper into the responses of participants as they come up to better understand their experience (Merriam, 2009). The interviews were recorded with permission from the respondents and then transcribed and checked for accuracy. The interview protocol used open-ended questions to encourage participants to describe their experiences and perspectives on being Black Male Leaders and what supports the success of Black Male Leaders. (See Appendix 1).
A constant comparative method of data analysis was used for this study to compare segments of data across participants to determine similarities and differences and allow themes to emerge from the qualitative data (Marriam, 2009). The interview transcripts of 12 Black Male Leaders were broken down by thought or idea rather than coded for meaning. The codes were cross-checked using the constant comparative method to align codes where similarities existed.
Once all data was coded, it was sorted in Excel to identify various overarching themes and sub-themes as they emerged across participant responses. A master list of themes compiled that focused on common or shared participants' experiences as Black Male Leaders. The themes that emerged were then used by the researchers to describe the essence of the experience of Black Male leaders in predominantly White contexts and how they used EI to navigate their roles.
Findings and Discussion
Because of the social dilemmas and complexities (e.g., double consciousness, two-ness etc.) participants in this study faced early on and throughout their professional accretion, they have learned to negotiate and lead in a variety of complex social contexts. Srivastava’s (2013), emphasis on self-emotional appraisal illuminates the importance of self-awareness. As a Black male leader, awareness of self is a key factor in being able to effectively manage how they are showing up in the workplace. Though they were not explicit in their terminology, they all described, in detail, their ability to effectively monitor their own and other people's emotions and to differentiate and discern diverse emotions and label them appropriately (Srivastava, 2013). They naturally have EI in their veins using emotional information (e.g., reflection) to guide their thinking and behavior. Thus, Black male leadership could play a more significant role in effectuating organizational effectiveness. Yet, their perspectives were under leveraged due to their suppressed social identities, lack of executive sponsorship and mentorship within organizational leadership structure and ineffective functioning environment. Ideally, organizations want staff to be able to bring their whole selves to work. Even in the right conditions, maintaining high-levels of employee engagement is difficult as heterogeneous groups may be affected by in-group/out-group biases (Moreland, 1985) as those who are least like the group majority and who may offer a different perspective will likely be isolated or even excluded all together.
Several themes emerged from the data indicating shared common experiences of the participants as Black male leaders in the workplace: desire for mentorship, increased psychological safety with organizational support, dealing with social and emotional distress, barriers to acculturation into workplace culture, obstructions to fulfilling the authentic self, and code switching. Each of the themes identified suggest that the challenges faced by Black male leaders are multifaceted.
Desire for Mentorship
For the participants in this study, mentorship was widely viewed as integral to the process of professional growth and development. The absence of mentorship when occupying positions of leadership was identified as an area of concern. All Black male leaders interviewed spoke of the impact that modeling (or shadowing) can have on leadership development. The absence of mentorship can have a profound effect on Black male leadership's ability to engage in the process of affirmative introspection, the process of reaching one’s sense of identity (Gardenswartz et al., 2010). Moreover, affirmative introspection entails reaching a point of understanding of one’s values and worldview (Gardenswartz et al., 2010) as well as higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment specifically for Black men in the workplace compared to those without mentors (Robinson & Reio, 2012). Unfortunately, finding mentors for Black male leaders is much harder than their White male colleagues. “While white men tend to find mentors on their own, women and minorities more often need help from formal programs” (Dobbin & Kalev, 2016, p. 7).
Participants spoke extensively about the value of mentorship in their personal and professional development. One participant noted:
“I think mentorship, as a resource, can be incredibly important because although we may struggle with different things, mentors are oftentimes people who struggled before us, and they can give us a different vantage point to help us come through the same situation.”
Thus, mentoring is a critical component for sustaining engagement of Black male leaders. Especially for helping to frame and reframe positive or negative social experiences which activates different brain regions, releasing dopamine which can re-code the experience as positive (Skuse & Gallagher, 2009). For example, mentoring is helpful prior to having difficult conversations, especially with members who are higher up in the organization. This includes discussing a variety of complex experiences and emotions to assist with validation and growth. To discuss undiscussable topics (e.g., race and gender inequity or feeling rejected or repressed) through a sustainable professional development (i.e., peer to peer coaching and repetition) (Berger, 2011) learning environment where mutual learning and personal growth can take place (Schwarz, 2005).
Mentoring is also useful for understanding various types of motivational drives including action initiation, determination, goal-shielding, incorporation of feedback and disengagement (Locke & Latham, 1990). In this study, the absence of mentorship was identified as a major area of concern. Essentially, we found that a mentor of color for Black leaders can create pathways for the establishment of an interdependent self-schema which helps to contextualize the workplace environment for the mentee. This allows for the mentee to see themselves in the system and can now be free to direct their efforts and energy towards the work of deeper affirmative introspection.
Increased Psychological Safety with Organizational Support
Organizational support was identified as one of the primary determinants for Black male leadership success by all of the participants. They identified several ways in which organizational support can impact their ability to be successful within their roles as leaders. One participant commented:
“I’ve been super excited since I've been here because I fully have the commitment of our chief executive board. I've been brought in to facilitate workshops and conversations and discussions with him and his leadership team, and he has left zero room for ambiguity in terms of what the expectations are. So, I appreciate that. Without that, the job becomes significantly more difficult.”
For the participants in this study, the effects of organizational support extend beyond a professional connotation. For Black male leaders, support of job performance often translates into a general feeling of acceptance of them as Black, male leaders. Participants each spoke about the value of being able to leverage social networks to gain professional insight, or knowledge, into best practices for managing obstacles or challenges as they arise. This was identified as an area within which participants expressed a desire to broaden their networks of social support.
It is imperative to better understand perceived marginalization of Black male leaders in workplace settings. When followers perceive that their leaders are utilizing non-problem-focused strategies specific to emotion modulating suppression, they report experiencing lower leader- member-exchange relationships and job satisfaction (Krishnan, 2005). We found through this study that an environment that encourages self-awareness in relation to others is likely to foster shared learning and understanding of one another. For example, consistent with our findings, Kong and Jolly (2018) found that Black leaders perceive that there is an ever-present fear of retribution that often results in silence as speaking out of turn could have repercussions. Participants confirmed that this shared communal narrative suggests that when Black men speak out, especially in moments of perceived discrimination, they are penalized. Thus, feeling devalued, Black male leaders are prone to resorting to fear-driven silence as a coping strategy. Conditions of this nature pose a threat to psychological safety making it difficult for Black male leaders to focus on stewardship. The relationship between perceived status and perceived competence is strong (Cuddy et al., 2009) and as such, when Black leaders perceive they are lacking in either of these areas, it erodes their sense of authentic leadership (Sellers et al., 2006).
The communal narrative of silence to avoid repercussions suggests failure of psychological safety specifically for Black males within the workplace. Psychological safety within teams is defined as “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking” (Edmondson, 1999, p. 354). Edmondson (1999) notes that this belief of safety is often “taken for granted and not given direct attention either by individuals or by the team as a whole”. Unfortunately, taking any aspect of group dynamics for granted in a racially or culturally diverse team is a direct violation of empathy from the perspective of EI. Additionally, it could be argued that the default model in which psychological safety is often employed lacks deliberate conversations/considerations about different racial experiences. Without those conversations/considerations, the dominant culture remains the default. For psychological safety to extend its benefits to employees of all racial ethnicities, it needs to be implemented not in terms of equality but with equity. “Although both equality and equity are presumed to promote fairness, equality attains this through treating everyone the same regardless of need, while equity achieves this through treating people differently depending on need” (Shore & Chung, 2021, p. 21). Foldly, Rivard, and Buckley (2009) argue that identity safety needs to be present before psychological safety when it comes to diverse teams. As previously stated, organizational support was discovered to be one of the primary factors for Black male leadership success. One of the ways organizations can support their Black male leaders is by consciously building diversity climates. These climates directly impact individual perceptions of psychological safety especially for racial minorities (Singh & Winkel, 2012; Wanless, 2016) most likely due to the fact that they assist in creating identity safe environments.
Need for Coping Strategies to Deal with Social and Emotional Distress
This common theme of environmental adaptation links heavily with Mosely’s (2017) study on Emotional Intelligence in Black male leaders. Mosely’s (2017) study underscores the notion that the success of Black men in leadership roles often hinges upon their ability to develop coping strategies for racial trauma. The Black male leader must utilize several strategies when assimilating into organizational culture. Emotional intelligence (EI) was identified by participants as the primary strategy for managing emotional regulation within the workplace. Participants cited their psychosocial histories, specific to familial influence, as shaping their understanding of emotional intelligence. For these participants, there was reportedly an emphasis on emotional awareness within their households as children. They each noted that being in tune with their emotions as children was encouraged. Moreover, EI was utilized as a tool for problem solving. “Cultural norms'', and a lack of “emotional awareness” were referenced as primary reasons in instances where emotional intelligence was absent from their households.
In considering the use of EI in professional settings, all participants identified it as being a key component to effective leadership. Each participant was able to identify EI as a strategy for managing difficult situations in the workplace. In discussing EI as a strategy for conflict resolution, one participant noted:
“I try to be aware of when I've been triggered and not react from the automatic brain. I utilize breathing techniques, catching my breath, leaning on mindfulness and EQ.”
Inadequate Intercultural Literacy that Hinders Acculturation into Workplace Culture
Acculturation emerged as one of the primary themes of this study. Participants indicated that the diversification of the workplace environment requires knowledge or understanding of cultural differences. Moreover, they view organizational cultural competency as being integral to their own professional success. Across each of the interviews, participants noted that the absence of understanding of cultural norms and influence can negatively impact social and psychological well-being. Of great concern for interviewees was the notion that organizations often struggle with establishing culturally sensitive environments. As expressed by one participant: “I think, with all organizations, there's always those challenges in terms of cultural competency.”
We believe that HRD leaders and practitioners have largely underutilized the inherent interpersonal skills Black male leaders possess. Participants report successfully acculturating within organizations largely due to their intercultural literacy within the organization which underscores their ability to acclimate to their workplace settings using EI. Their close relationships with members of their trusted network of support (e.g., immediate and extended family and close friends) provided them with the opportunity to learn from their negative experiences at work or school and where they became able to successfully overcome oppressive situational contexts. Participants described these as learned coping strategies for dealing with systemic oppression. This suggests Black leaders may have the ideal adaptive people skills to effectively lead in VUCA social environments. Per Gardenswartz et al. (2010), the successful Black male leader often possesses a heightened sense of social and emotional awareness. In particular, their use of affirmative introspection (Gardenswartz et al., 2010), is critical to gaining insight and perspective on themselves in their environments. This awareness serves to highlight the connection between emotional intelligence and the Black male leaders’ ability to serve as an organizational social architect.
The effects of both double consciousness and two-ness support the development of EI in complex and varied ways (Brannon et al., 2015). For example, social hyper-vigilance contributes to code switching, oscillating between multiple dialectic constructs, which the participants found meaningful, giving them the ability to navigate in a variety of diverse environments. Effective use of code switching can be leveraged as a competitive advantage when applied to certain environments that may be reserved for Black male leaders that would be fraught or challenged if attempted by a White male leader (McCluney et al., 2019). Thus, fostering meaningful, productive dialogue, establishing effective organizational systems, orchestrating processes and over-seeing decision-making is consistent with that of an EI leader and quite indicative of the Black male participants in this article.
Need to Bring the Full Self into the Environment is Often Obstructed
Discrepancy between one's actual behavior and that prescribed by significant others has often been shown to create fear and anxiety, deviations from one's own internalized moral and religious standards and has been associated with guilt and self-criticism (Higgins, 1987). Participants noted that the presence of double consciousness is problematic in several ways as energy is often expended on how they are being perceived as opposed to focusing on the present situation. From a leadership perspective, participants noted that this can create a sense of anxiety in terms of the potential consequences linked to a misstep. One participant wondered aloud if a misstep of any kind would cost him his job (“Will I be viewed as incompetent? Will I lose my job?”). The consensus among participants was that their actions would be judged more harshly than their white male counterparts (Alexis, 2019).
Code Switching Among Black Male Leaders
For the purposes of the article, code-switching refers to “the act of changing the way one speaks to conform to the way someone else communicates” (Graham, 2017, para. 2). This often means adapting one’s speech to conform to the way that White Americans speak. Respondents referred to code-switching, or “adjusting one’s style of speech, appearance, behavior, and expression in ways that will optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment, quality service, and employment opportunities” (McCluney et al., 2019, para. 3), as a survival tactic to navigate the divide between their racial and professional identities. In the context of this study, participants identified code-switching as being able to oscillate between the language of the Black community and that of their immediate workplace environment which is oftentimes predominately White.
As one participant noted, he learned how to “code switch and speak in certain ways depending on the company” that he is in. He was specifically referring to whether or not he is in the presence of his White colleagues. From a leadership perspective, the participants that spoke of code-switching noted the various ways that this phenomenon stifles their desire to bring their full-self into the workplace environment out of fear of rejection by their white counterparts.
Implications for HRD Research and Theory
The concept notion of Black male leaders as social architects has not been extensively studied and requires further investigation beyond this present study. At present, there is a gap in the literature as this phenomenon has not been closely examined in contemporary leadership theory. Future HRD researchers may consider conducting this study on a broader scale to reach the point of saturation. Additionally, they may consider exploring the constructs of EI and Social Architecture through the lens of a larger, culturally, and ethnically diverse sample size. Data of this nature may contribute to a collective understanding of the effects of diversity on the development of leadership.
From an organizational perspective, data presented in this study may be helpful in establishing strategies for HRD practitioners for workplace initiatives that support diversity in leadership. Themes such as interdependent self-schema, or self/worldview, underscore the importance of awareness of racial, ethnic, or cultural differences in the workplace. Future HRD researchers may consider developing logic models that address the need for diversification of leadership within organizations.
As HRD professionals work to develop diverse leaders, they will need to consider their organization’s architectural design. This will require gaining insight into the impact of varying cultural values and behaviors on society (Davis & Thomas, 2009). As the workforce diversifies, so must leadership. For this to occur in an effective manner, it is important to understand the effects of psychosocial and sociocultural factors on the psyche of Black male leaders. There is compelling value in holding this discussion in spaces where senior leadership work with HRD professionals to further develop workplace culture and inclusion.
The purpose of this study was to gauge the role of EI, as a construct, on a Black male leaders’ ability to serve as a social architect, in an organizational setting. Emotional intelligence EI is integral to effective leadership. Moreover, EI is key to their ability to serve as social architects within their respective organizations. At any given moment, they must possess awareness, a sense of self, and the capacity to exercise emotional regulation. Additionally, they must maintain their sense of self within the organizational system. The identified traits are widely accepted as integral components of effective leadership. However, for Black male leaders, adherence to these traits is often made difficult by hypervigilance specific to how they are being perceived. Beyond social interactions, there lies a cognitive process that is often hindered by phenomena such as two-ness or double consciousness.
This study expands upon existing research on Black male leadership by considering the use of EI as a coping strategy. Although EI has seldom been researched and applied in the context of Black male leadership, this phenomenon is useful in fostering emotional regulation and deepening insight into one’s cognitive processing. Highlighting the significance of EI for Black male leaders and their experience as social architects in today’s organizations is vital to understanding how to support the growth, development, and success of Black male leaders as well as how to encourage them to bring their full selves to the workplace. All leaders and employees need to bring their full selves to work each day, but it is necessary to understand what is hindering them from doing so. This study has revealed some of the barriers that must be addressed to ensure the overall success of Black male leaders in the workplace.
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Enin Rudel, PsyD, MSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and an organizational development psychologist. He has served as an adjunct professor in the fields of Organizational Psychology and Clinical Social Work. He holds a doctoral degree in organizational leadership psychology with a focus on neurological functioning and a master’s degree in clinical social work.
Dr. Brandi Derr is the Associate Director of the Leadership PsyD program as well as Leadership PsyD faculty at William James College. She holds a PsyD in Leadership Psychology from William James College, with a focus on: Mentorship, Public Narrative and black, female leadership capacity-building.
Miranda Ralston, PsyD, MS, is a an organizational and leadership psychologist and the VP and partner of an organizational development consulting firm. She has served as the Program Director for Masters programs in Organizational Psychology and Organizational Leadership, the Director of the Neuroscience of Leadership doctoral emphasis and lab, and is an assistant professor. She holds a doctoral degree in leadership psychology and a master’s degree in organizational leadership.
Terrence B. Williams, PsyD, MSM has led meaningful organizational change in both public and private sectors for over 25 years as HR executive, OD consultant, executive coach and researcher. His research interests are organizational leadership psychology with a concentration on social identity and group dynamics. He also holds a doctorate degree in organizational leadership psychology and a master of science degree in management.
Aprille Young, PsyD, is a leadership and organizational psychologist/consultant and entrepreneur. She has served as faculty in the Organizational and Leadership Psychology Department at William James College as well as founder of Merak Nexus LLC. She holds a PsyD in Leadership Psychology from William James College, a MA in Organizational Psychology from William James College, and a BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase College.