Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Kizzy Dominguez

Abstract

In recent years, more women have entered positions of leadership, and their alpha personalities have compelled them to strive for higher positions of authority. With this influx, it has become necessary to better understand the influences of this type of female leader and to expand narrow conceptualizations. Previous studies examined alpha female leaders of high school and college-age, but studies have yet to explore this type of leader beyond college. This phenomenological study sought to examine the influence of the minority identity, life experience, and leadership duration on veteran alpha female leaders. It was grounded in social-role and ethnic-identity theory. During semistructured interviews, 12 veteran alpha female leaders of various ethnicities explained their experiences. The data were analyzed using the Colaizzi method; 409 significant statements were extracted and then clustered into 8 themes. The findings indicated that although alpha qualities can emerge early, most attributes take time to develop. Seeking opportunities and ongoing mentoring influenced leader experiences and contributed to success and leadership duration. Through exploration of the minority identity status (e.g. gender, ethnicity, culture, etc.) increased motivational influences were found as a direct result of the minority identity, these findings indicated that leaders of color were particularly susceptible to more than one motivational influence. Increased understanding of veteran alpha women could help to improve leadership practices and enhance working relationships, which better support the personalities of this valuable but sometimes challenging leadership type. The general acceptance of alpha women in leadership roles promotes positive social change by helping to facilitate growth in female leadership representation.