Reimagining leadership through lessons from the life of Aurelia Erskine Brazeal


Leadership, Management & Business


International Journal of Public Leadership

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



The purpose of this study is to fill a gap in the literature by examining the import and impact of the generative leadership philosophy and praxis of Ambassador Aurelia Erskine Brazeal, an African American Female Foreign Service Officer.


This single subject case study, augmented by portraiture, employs an interdisciplinary methodological design also using polyvocal narrative, oral history and arts-based research.


The research revealed that a prosocial disposition, compassion, strategic vision, clarity of purpose, commitment to fair play, focus on balance, hearing everyone out and the practice of leadership as a potentiating art are the hallmarks of a generative leadership praxis.

Research limitations/implications

The research posits that to be effective in the 21st century, leaders would do well to incorporate generative leadership qualities and characteristics into their praxis.

Practical implications

This study found that listening, co-creating connections and safe spaces, promoting dialog, critical reflection and collective action are as important to diplomatic tradecraft as they are to generative leadership practice.

Social implications

The challenge of epistemic exclusion suggests that a well-conceived case study examining the life, leadership philosophy and praxis of Aurelia Erskine Brazeal – an individual of merit and distinction – can serve as an exemplar in efforts to reimagine public leadership in the 21st century.


The value of this research is found in its phenomenological approach which shares insights drawn from personal biography as well as key perspectives on public history.