Women Leaders and Narratives: The Power of Reflecting on Purpose and Career

Deborah Nelson Smith, Sallie Suby-Long


This qualitative study explored ten women leaders’ perspectives about the processes associated with constructing their leadership and purpose stories or narratives.  The study participants first wrote, and then talked about their stories in a semi-structured interview.  An overarching theme emerged from the data - narrative sharing was a challenging, yet beneficial process for the participants.  Three sub-themes also emerged from the collective narratives.  First, the process of reflection helped women identify times when their actions and decisions were purposeful, even though they may not have recognized it at the time.  Second, reflection on purpose led participants to a clearer identification and articulation of leadership philosophy. Third, citing that sharing their narratives helped them identify times of leadership authenticity, participants indicated they intended to use similar practices to make current and future leadership/career decisions.  Recommendations are included for organizations, educational institutions, and individuals who are interested in using narrative sharing as a leadership development tool.  


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18738/awl.v39i0.308


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