An exploration of the Army’s diversity culture : a collective case study that captures the emotional intelligence of successful male African American general officers.


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In this qualitative collective case study, I examined what emotional intelligence characteristics empowered four successful officers to succeed in unbalanced circumstances. The Army’s General Officer corps is approximately 85% White officers, and the African American General Officer population is 11% (General Officer Management Office, 2021). The unbalanced scale is discriminatory and reduces racial minorities’ opportunities to excel and make lasting strategic-level changes in the Army. However, some officers overcome diversity challenges and excel in the ranks.

Through this qualitative collective case study I sought to understand how four male African American General Officers serving in the Army applied emotional intelligence to overcome diversity challenges and achieve the rank of a general officer. I applied a purposive single stage sampling strategy because the population was relatively small and I had easy access to the participants. The data collection phase of the study included a document and archival record review of prior interviews, speeches, and command philosophies, interviews with each participant, and a focus group. I applied cross-case synthesis to analyze the data collected from the participants, which led to the identification of diversity and emotional intelligence-related themes.

The results of the study illuminate how the United States Army can incorporate emotional intelligence education into its training and doctrine programs. The study demonstrated that self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal skills, decision-making skills, and stress management emotional intelligence characteristics helped overcome diversity challenges to improve performance measures and promote success in the Army. The most common diversity challenges were perceptions, hate speech, and divisive symbols. The most prominent emotional intelligence characteristics were self-perception and self-expression. The officers also indicated that, while not an emotional intelligence characteristic, mentorship played a crucial role in understanding different strategies to overcome diversity challenges. The study made three recommendations related to improving emotional intelligence and enhancing the performance opportunities of racial and gender minorities in the Army. The three recommendations focused on including emotional intelligence in training and curriculum, developing multicultural experienced-based learning skills, and developing a formalized mentorship program. This study highlights the need to conduct further research to understand emotional intelligence's impacts on improving workplace discriminatory racial practices.