African American Women Leaders: Leadership Requires Courage, Collaboration, Communication, and Commitment

African American Women Leaders: Leadership Requires Courage, Collaboration, Communication, and Commitment

Toya Ann Barnes-Teamer, Tia Alicia Teamer
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8206-0.ch003
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For African American women, there are common threads that should be explored through purpose, preparation, and preceptors. Purpose seems to be at the core of strengthening any leader's career trajectory. However, having a purpose without preparation is futile. Preparation requires being strategic. Some of the strategies that can be employed to stay focused on a purpose or goal include being clear about why you are pursuing the goal, creating a plan of action, creating milestones, tracking results, and finding an accountability partner or mentor which establishes lasting and impactful connections in reaching career aspirations. As the authors attempt to provide guidance, inspiration, and tools for African American women seeking to advance within the academy, courage, collaboration, communication, and commitment are key strategies to leadership success.
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Vance (2016) stated that mentorship is essential to the personal and professional development of students, faculty, staff, and researchers in higher education. It increases one’s likelihood of career success. Because I started my career in higher education as a student worker, mentorship was a fundamental part of my broader leadership development. I identified mentors in all of the spaces that would help me succeed as a student and as part of my career. Those mentors exposed me to other leaders in the academy, their careers, and the community.

I learned that even those in the most senior leadership positions could benefit from mentoring. The relationship between leadership and mentorship for African American women is critically important to advancing in the academy since pathways to leadership can be less academic in nature and more informal or relational. I also learned that you do not have to take on every characteristic of your mentor as a mentee. Instead, I learned to take on those qualities and skills that helped me maintain my authentic self in becoming the leader I want to be.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Authentic Leadership: Emphasizes building legitimacy through honest relationships with team members, which values their input and expands a moral and ethical foundation.

Microaggression: The brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to specific individuals because of their group membership based on race, gender, age, or religious beliefs. The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words.

Resilience: The ability to recover quickly from adversity.

Allyship: The practice of intentionally focusing on social justice, inclusion, and human rights by members of an empowered group, to advance the interests of a marginalized group.

Adversity: Difficulties, challenges, or hardships.

Intersectionality: The interconnectedness of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Superwoman Syndrome: The range of physical, psychological, and interpersonal stress symptoms experienced by a woman who attempts to perform perfectly in multiple or conflicting roles.

Bias: The disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is prejudicial or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. For example, people may develop preferences for or against an individual, a group, or a belief.

Anti-Racist Training: Training that actively works to dismantle systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize white dominance by helping participants understand the history of whiteness in America critically.

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