Women in leadership roles as directors in California's human services agencies

This qualitative narrative research study utilized a semi-structured interview process to explore and understand the complexity of the art of leadership of six women directors of human services agencies in the Northern/Central part of California. The conceptual framework of the Role Congruency Theory was used to guide the research process. This study found five major themes: 1) Motivation; 2) Mentoring; 3) Leadership; 4) Professional development; 5) Challenges based on gender. Theme one had two subthemes: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Theme two had two subthemes: followership and building relationships. Theme three had two subthemes: leadership skills and leadership style. Theme four had two subthemes: personal growth and professional growth. Theme five had two subthemes: physical appearance and communication style. By giving a voice to women leaders that work in the public sector will add to the existing body of knowledge about women and the challenges they face in a leadership role.