Dr Rob Sayers-Brown February 22 2024

LGBTQ+ Leadership: Emerging Strengths from Identity Interactions

In the vibrant tapestry of LGBTQ+ leadership, there exists a rich reservoir of inherent strengths intricately woven with personal identity. Through introspection, the participants illuminate the profound ways in which their LGBTQ+ experiences shape their leadership journeys, offering valuable insights into the transformative power of identifying and leveraging these strengths in their leadership approach.

This week, I aim to delve deeper into my doctoral research findings. To recap, in my last blog I explored how an individual makes sense of the ‘collision’ between their LGBTQ+ and leadership identities, exploring how individuals made sense and applied meaning to the interactions that took place at the heart of this interaction.   

 The second theme of ‘Strengths resulting from the ‘Collision’’, explores how the participants of my research reflected on the inherent strengths which manifested from their LGBTQ+ identity, and which informed and shaped their identity as a leader: ambition, resilience, and empathy. The unravelling and leveraging of these areas helped the participants to navigate heteronormative societal structures to carve out unique leadership identities. 


This first strength spoke to the unwavering ambition of the participants in my research, shaped by their childhood experiences. From adolescence, a sense of determination emerged, fuelled by the need to prove oneself in a world that often fails to recognise their worth. This ambition, rooted in the rejection of heteronormative norms, propelled them to excel, push boundaries and strive for success despite systemic barriers. Their relentless pursuit of achievement reflected not only personal aspirations but also a commitment to honouring those who paved the way before them. 


In the face of adversity and societal scrutiny, the participants exhibited remarkable resilience, drawing strength from their experiences, with each challenge they faced becoming an opportunity for growth and empowerment. Their resilience, forged through hardship and perseverance, forms a protective shield against the pressures of heteronormative expectations. Armed with inner fortitude, the participants felt empowered to confront obstacles with resilience, turning setbacks into stepping stones towards personal and professional fulfilment. 


Central to the leadership journey of the leaders in my research was the cultivation of empathy, born from a deep understanding of diverse lived experiences. Through their own struggles, these leaders develop a heightened sensitivity to the perspectives of others, fostering inclusivity and understanding within their leadership approach. This empathy strengthens interpersonal connections and fosters a sense of belonging among team members. Despite facing adversity, LGBTQ+ leaders embrace empathy as a powerful tool for building bridges and fostering collaboration in diverse organizational settings. 

What can organisations do to help individuals recognise and leverage their strengths? 

While it's important to recognise that there's no one-size-fits-all approach, it's evident that the intersection of an individual's LGBTQ+ identity with their leadership identity can yield a myriad of strengths. My research underscores the need for organisations to acknowledge and explore this intersection, guiding individuals in recognising and leveraging the unique strengths that arise from it. Embracing frameworks like Positive Psychology and Strengths-based Leadership can facilitate this process, fostering self-awareness and enabling participants to delve into the strengths stemming from the interplay between their personal and professional identities. Practical tools, such as psychometric assessments, can be instrumental in identifying these strengths and supporting their enhanced utilization.  

Ultimately, my hope is that the insights and findings from this thesis serve as a catalyst for organisations and practitioners to reconsider their approach to leadership development. By refraining from dismissing the significance of identity intersections, and instead actively nurturing and supporting them, organisations can unlock a wealth of potential benefits for both individuals and the broader organisational context. 

Next time, I’ll explore the ‘Workplace roles formed from the Collision’ and talk further about the practical implications of this research as a whole!  


Subscribe to insights from our blog here:

Would you like to know more?

How would you like to start a conversation?