The Leadership Perspectives of African American Males after Participation in a Leadership Development Program



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This study investigated the perceptions of African American undergraduate males who attend a predominately White institution in the southwest as they concern leadership after participation in a leadership development program and the influence of social constructed identities on development. Research concerning African American undergraduate males in education has been from a deficit- orientated narrative and focused primarily on academic achievement or lack of involvement, with little attention paid to African American males performing leadership. As society continues to focus on graduation and college attendance by African American males, it is important to explore African American undergraduate male leadership as a viable method to engage and influence graduation and attendance. Study I of this dissertation research examine the literature pertaining to socially constructed identities, leadership, and leadership development programs. Results indicated a gap in the literature addressing the intersectionality of multiple layers of identity and leadership. Study II examined the way in which African American undergraduate males make meaning and define leadership. Results indicated that African American undergraduate males defined leadership as either leader behaviors or specific characteristics that leaders possess. Study III examined the influence of participation in a leadership development program on the perception of leadership. Results indicated that these African American undergraduate males had a sense of increased self-concept and a sense of responsibility/selflessness to improve themselves and others. This dissertation suggests that universities develop and implement campus leadership development programs focused on the interconnectedness of socially constructed identities and leadership theory as a method to engage and improve self-concept in African American undergraduate males.