Black Men Can’t Lead?

Study shows stereotypes keep blacks out of leadership positions in sports and business

(Image: ThinkStock)

The study concludes that black leaders are not evaluated comparably to their white counterparts, resulting in severe consequences for black organizational members and also finds that bias against black leaders is sustained because the way evaluators subscribe to stereotypes. In short, if a black quarterback leads his team successfully, he’s a gifted athlete, not a great leader. But if he fails, he’s a poor leader. “A problem I find in here, is regarding how African Americans are perceived,” says Rosette.

According to Rosette, this is an example of compensatory stereotypes, as they compensate for a negative stereotype, but does not conflict with that negative stereotype. So we looked at it in college football, and that compensatory stereotype would be athleticism.  So the African American quarterbacks, who are leaders on the field, and have led their team to victory, they have led successfully, are not described as good leaders, but instead are described in this compensatory term, which is athleticism, and there are several examples in terms of how this could move from the football field to the actual corporate environment.

According to the data, an African American who is placed in a leadership role as a quarterback must contend with certain perceptions that they’re going to have to overcome simply because they are not expected to be in that role, and secondly are not expected to do well in that role. While there’s currently an African American in the White House, Obama represents more of an aberration than a trend. “I think what would cause a change is, when the expectations of the race of our leaders changes,” says Rossette. “When you think, what’s going to be the race of our next president after Obama? I can probably guess, most people in general would say it’s probably going to be another white person.”

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  • Warehouse 24&7

    Before anybody do the job at hand we have to ask ourself what we have to separate before we know organize first. I see it like credits add up know matter what profession as long as you lead in a way people start talking your language. But back to how black men can’t lead i know it’s not possible if the thought is not there and i (we) never thought about being a quarter back. Imprint factual story’s in then we will start to develop a awareness to success at a early age.

    • Lou

      Take a look at our affirmitive action President the guy is a diaster he has to read a teleprompter writtem buy a white guy.

    • johnny johnson

      to: warehouse24&7, you need someone to check your spelling. what you are saying does not make sense!

  • A RICH


  • Mega

    I remember the pride I felt when I saw 2 African American head coaches in the Super Bowl (Indianapolis vs. Chicago) a few years ago. That was exciting.

  • eas

    So, based on the analogies, excuses and prejudices explained in the article, how did Kenneth Chenault and Richard Parsons become “effective” CEOs in their respective professional fields? What’s the excuse for white CEOs of failed companies on Wall Street in the recent years? What if the next POTUS after Barack Obama is a U.S. naturalized citizen who happens to be a female Latina from Costa Rica? Or an Asian male? Or Arabic female?
    Bottom line: the black man will never, never, ever get respect, no matter how much of an outstanding job he does in business, sports, education, etc.

  • Midwestern Athlete

    In sports one of the ‘compliments’ thrown the white man’s way from our black brothers is terms like “he plays like a black man” or “he can dance like a black man”. As a white person I have always asked the following question: How would an African American feel if white people paid a “compliment” to a succesful black person in busines or in a leadership position by saying “he thinks like a white person” or he “talks like a white person”. All races can be succssful. Stop the stereotypes from all sides.

  • really?

    this article is ridiculous. the nfl is probably 80%+ black players, obviously GMs and college coaches have NO issue with race in this regard. the reason the leagues are 80% black players is because those are the best players, period. if one or two positions, ie QB, kicker, punter etc. have higher percentages of white players, its probably for the same reason, they just happen to make up the best players at that position. it has nothing to do with leadership. defences in both leagues have defensive captains who are the leaders, field generals and motivators of their side of the ball. this often goes to a rugged, intelligent, defensive player, often of which is black.
    as a white guy with plenty of friends of other races, i personally feel like its passive-agressive crap like this that makes racial problems worse, not better.

  • Karl

    Given that African-Americans (Blacks, if you prefer) have held/are holding the exalted positions of President, Secretary of State (twice), National Security Advisor, Attorney General, Governor, Congressman (many) , Senator (many), 4-Star General (many), Supreme Court Justice, and CEO of Fortune 500 companies, not to mention MVP of just about every major sport…and only comprise about 13% of the U.S. population, isn’t it about time we drop the “woe is me” mantra, and stop relying on affirmative action hand-outs??? NAACP, Black Enterprise, etc. continue to race bait, divide, and exploit issues that education, hard work, and personal responsibility will almost always overcome.