Leadership Role Identity Construction in Women’s Leadership Development Programs

This article analyzes women’s only leadership development training to determine how leadership roles are conceptualized and implemented, how women independently and collectively construct new leadership role identities, and how leadership identities are retained post training. Themes of nested validation, accepting the belonging narrative, identity emergence, leadership as multiverse, and reflective/reflexive leadership development were discovered. Leadership validation was needed by participants to own their new leadership identity. Through accepting a new narrative, participants confirmed that they belonged in their new leadership role. Identity work occurred on personal and social levels, allowing participants to assume a strengths-based approach to leadership development. Women’s only leadership programs, which acknowledge new leadership narratives and identities, allowed emergent leaders an improved opportunity to assume and retain their new role.