Date of Award

Spring 4-26-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Myrna Cote

Second Advisor

Marilou Ryder

Third Advisor

Tiffani Thomas


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory mixed-method study was to identify and describe self-sabotaging behaviors experienced by female African American Deans in higher education and to explore the impact these behaviors had on their career development. A secondary purpose of this study was to identify strategies employed by female African American Deans in higher education to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.

Methodology: This sequential explanatory mixed-method study explored the lived experiences of nine female African American deans who acknowledged they had experienced self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their careers. The researcher distributed an electronic Likert scale survey to the participants to identify the most prevalent self-sabotaging behaviors, followed by an open-ended interview to collect in-depth data on the self-sabotaging behaviors participants experienced and strategies employed to overcome them.

Findings: Examination of the quantitative and qualitative data from the nine female African American deans participating in this study indicated a variety of findings. Female African American deans engaged in nine self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their leadership careers. The self-sabotaging behaviors negatively impacted women’s career advancement efforts and their physical and mental well-being, and personal relationships. All female African American deans used the following strategies to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors: building a power web, owning all of oneself, empowering other women, and acting with confidence.

Conclusions: The study showed African American women engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their leadership careers. The internalization of maintaining racists beliefs passed on from generation to generation and stereotypes contributed to women developing self-sabotaging behaviors. African American women used various strategies to counteract the top self-sabotaging behaviors. Building a power web was the most identified strategy female African American deans used to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to identify the self-sabotaging behaviors and their impact on female teachers, school counselors, and site-level administrators striving to rise to the ranks of educational leadership. It is also recommended research be conducted to identify strategies female African American deans at historically Black universities use to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors.