Through the Lens of Servant Leadership: African American Female Nurse Leaders’ Journey to Executive Status

Published:September 29, 2022DOI:
      This research examined how African American female nurse leaders describe their journey to their current positions as executive leaders. This study gave voice to 8 African American female nurse leaders in health care facilities in the southeast United States. The theoretical frameworks used were critical race theory and servant leadership. Three themes resulted from this phenomenological research, (a) there is no blueprint, (b) it comes with the job, and (c) the secret to my sauce. The findings of this study will inform aspiring African American female nurse leaders on how to achieve their leadership goals.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Nurse Leader
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Iheduru-Anderson K.C.
        Barriers to career advancement in the nursing profession: perceptions of black nurses in the United States.
        Nurs Forum. 2020; 55: 664-677
        • Institute of Medicine
        Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.
        National Academies Press, Washington, DC2002
        • Goode C.A.
        • Landefeld T.
        The lack of diversity in healthcare: Causes, consequences, and solutions.
        J Best Pract Heal Prof Divers. 2018; 11: 73-95
        • Galuska L.
        Education as a springboard for transformational leadership development. Listening to the voices of nurses.
        J Continuing Ed Nurs. 2014; 45: 67-76
        • Yosso TJ
        Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth.
        Race Ethn Educ. 2005; 8: 69-91
        • Ackerman-Barger K.
        • Hummel F.
        Critical race theory as a lens for exploring inclusion and equity in nursing education.
        J Theor Construction Test. 2015; 19: 39-46
        • Greenleaf R.K.
        The Servant as Leader.
        The Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, South Orange (NJ)1970
        • Greenleaf R.K.
        Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness.
        3rd ed. Paulist Press, Mahwah (NJ2002
        • Hoch J.E.
        • Bommer W.H.
        • Dulebohn J.H.
        • et al.
        Do ethical, authentic, and servant leadership explain variance above and beyond transformational leadership? A meta-analysis.
        J Manage. 2018; 44: 501-529
        • Moustakas C.
        Phenomenological Research Methods.
        Sage, Los Angeles (CA)1994
        • Bernard H.R.
        • Ryan G.W.
        Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches.
        Sage, Thousand Oaks (CA)2010
        • Corbin J.
        • Strauss A.
        Basics of Qualitative Research.
        3rd ed. Sage, Thousand Oaks (CA)2008
        • Creswell J.W.
        Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches.
        5th. Sage, Thousand Oaks (CA)2014
        • Kindipan I.A.
        The Role of Leader Empowering Behaviors on Work Engagement and Intent to Stay Among Staff Nurses in Acute Care Hospitals (Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Texas at Arlington).
        Date: 2017
        Date accessed: September 26, 2022
        (Accessed September 26, 2022)
        • Munn F.
        Everyone stands to gain from diversity in leadership.
        Nurs Stand. 2017; 32: 12
        • Elliott J.R.
        • Smith R.A.
        Race, gender, and workplace power.
        Am Soc Rev. 2004; 69: 365-386
        • Dickens D.D.
        • Chavez E.L.
        Navigating the workplace: the costs and benefits of shifting identities at work among early career U.S. Black women.
        Sex Roles. 2018; 78: 760-774
        • Catalyst
        Advancing African American women in the workplace: what managers need to know.
        Date accessed: September 26, 2022
        • McDonald M.L.
        • Westphal J.D.
        Access denied: low mentoring of women and minority first-time directors and its negative effects on appointments to additional boards.
        Acad Manage J. 2013; 56: 1169-1198
        • Bradley B.T.
        Informal networks and mentoring: a phenomenological study exploring career advancement strategies of women leaders in the defense industry.
        (Doctoral Dissertation) Capella University ProQuest Disserations Publishing, 2013: 3557592
        • Betz N.E.
        • Fitzgerald L.F.
        The Career Psychology of Women.
        Academic Press, Cambridge, MA1987
        • Heilman M.E.
        • Okimoto T.G.
        Why are women penalized for success at male tasks? The implied communality deficit.
        J Appl Psy. 2007; 92: 81-92
        • Maume Jr., D.J.
        Glass ceilings and glass escalators. Occupational segregation and race and sex differences in managerial promotions.
        Work Occup. 1999; 26: 427
        • Poduval J.
        • Poduval M.
        Working mothers: how much working, how much mothers, and where is the womanhood?.
        Mens Sana Monogr. 2009; 72: 63-69


      Cassandra S. Galloway, MSN, RN, PhD, MBA/MHA, PhD graduate of Leadership Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro, NC. E-mail: [email protected] ; Monica E. Allen, EdD, Associate Professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro, NC; Donald D. Kautz, RN, PhD, Associate Professor Emeritus at University of North Carolina Greensboro, Winston Salem, NC