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Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the opportunities and challenges minority senior executive U.S. federal government agency leaders (MSELs) faced on their path to leadership, and their strategies to manage and overcome these challenges. The phrase minority senior executive leaders refer to individuals who lead U.S. executive departments; individual federal agencies, departments, or commissions; and those that report under the direct leadership of majority or minority leaders. This study explored how MSELs gained entry into leadership positions typically held by majority leaders; how MSELs take advantage of the opportunities presented to them; and what had the most impact on these MSELs during their journey to senior executive leadership positions within the U.S. federal government. A triangulated data collection and analytical approach generated themes in the areas of top management team critical thinking & strategic development; employee motivation, engagement, and empowerment; agency representation and exposure; integrity and stakeholder engagement; mentors, sponsors, and mentoring; and developing agency leaders. This study has far-reaching implications because it provides a roadmap not only for minorities but also for all who aspire to obtain senior executive leadership positions.

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