Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Qualitative Research Journal


Article in Press


15 pp.



The research aims to understand the stories of women leaders who have demonstrated bravery in leadership. By analyzing their lived experiences through storytelling and narratives, it seeks to shed light on the challenges and motivations behind their brave actions, contributing to a deeper understanding of bravery in leadership within gender and organizational contexts.


This study adopts a qualitative multiple case study approach, focusing on the autobiographical accounts of three women leaders to explore their experiences of bravery in leadership. Utilizing narrative analysis (NA), it is grounded in ethical leadership theory and narrative identity theory. The research method involves cross-analyzing these narratives to unearth themes that depict a multifaceted view of bravery, including moral courage and ethical decision-making.


The study reveals various themes of bravery in leadership, such as moral courage, authenticity, resilience and ethical decision-making. These findings enhance the understanding of bravery's role in ethical conduct and transformative change, highlighting the complex manifestations of bravery in women's leadership practices.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the broader discourse on bravery in leadership, especially for women. It offers insights into how bravery is integral to ethical conduct and transformative leadership and sheds light on the influence of gender dynamics on leadership experiences. This study significantly enriches the discourse on bravery in leadership, with a particular focus on women's experiences. It delves into how bravery, encompassing moral courage and authenticity, is crucial for ethical conduct and transformative leadership. By highlighting the stories of women leaders, the research underscores the complex interplay between bravery and gender dynamics within organizational contexts. It challenges traditional perceptions of leadership and bravery, advocating for a more nuanced understanding that recognizes the unique challenges and strengths of women leaders. Furthermore, this study paves the way for future research to explore diverse dimensions of bravery in leadership, encouraging a more inclusive approach that values different perspectives and experiences.

Practical implications

The findings of this study advocate for empowering leadership practices and guide the development of a courageous leadership landscape. Current events show evidence that many organizations lack the integration of bravery as a core leadership trait. These narratives of bravery in women's leadership can serve as a powerful catalyst for inspiring all leaders These stories can guide leaders across various levels to embrace bravery in their decision-making and leadership styles. The integration of these insights into organizational policies and leadership development programs can lead to a more courageous, ethical and transformative leadership landscape.

Social implications

The research emphasizes the need for inclusive approaches to leadership and bravery, challenging dominant gender norms. It underscores the importance of acknowledging and valuing women leaders' stories, thereby empowering their narratives.


The study adds value to the field by unveiling the often untold narratives around bravery in leadership. Findings can assist in fostering environments where diverse expressions of bravery are recognized and valued. Findings have the potential to inspire a new generation of leaders, across all genders, to embrace bravery in their roles, thereby enriching the leadership landscape with diverse, ethical and courageous practices. This research not only contributes to academic discourse but also has real-world implications, encouraging organizations to reevaluate and evolve their leadership models to be more inclusive and effective in today's dynamic and diverse global environment.


Copyright © 2024, Michelle E. Bartlett.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors.


0000-0001-7719-987X (Bartlett)

Original Publication Citation

Bartlett, M. E. (2024). Women leaders' lived experiences of bravery in leadership. Qualitative Research Journal. Advance online publication.