Mentoring and African American Army Captain Success: A Case Study

Mentoring and African American Army Captain Success: A Case Study

Author: 
Burl W. Randolph, Jr.
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
Relationships are vitally important in all aspects of life, and especially in the Army, when sometimes life or death decisions are required. Mentoring is a developmental relationship where experiences are shared between two people, one with greater experience and one with lesser experience, based on mutual trust and respect. The purpose of this qualitative explanatory case study was to explain mentoring and African American Army Captain success. The impacts are well beyond the primary problem under investigation, of subpar promotion rates to Major for minority and female officers. A systemic problem spanning over the last 40+ years, and what may contribute to the diversity imbalance at senior Army officer levels, requires a holistic performance improvement strategy. Through conducting surveys, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and reviewing previous studies, the views of African American Army Captains and Majors as mentees, and all Army Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels as mentors were gathered. The perspectives identified several themes requiring recognition before executing an Army mentoring strategy. One pattern that led to a theme was that mentoring occurs in the Army, but not through the Army Mentoring Program, because few officers are registered, use, or know of the program. Those patterns were parallel to three other patterns that indicated: lost mentoring time for junior officers, only 1-5 mentee experiences in an Army career, and an ardent desire for mentoring relationships. Based on the research findings, patterns identified, and themes developed, mentoring may have greater impact on African American Army Captain success and promotion potential when initiated at the onset of an officer’s career.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this work to my parents, Burl and Benella Randolph, without whom this would not have been possible. My parents completely and totally understood me, and I miss them every day of my life. They taught me about leadership, compassion, and family. A sensational set of parents is the foundation for having a great life, and that is what my parents gave me. I dedicate this work to my family: Terry, Dominic, and Derek Randolph, who have tolerated me throughout this journey. Through the early mornings, late nights, residencies, tragedies, and setbacks, you allowed me to handle it all in my own unique way. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone, is to let them be who they are. I dedicate this study to my siblings, Lynn Toni, Sterling Eugene, Larry Maurice, Teresa Diann, Debora Ann, and Alisa Marie. We are the Magnificent Seven and are riding into the sunset together. The journey is long, but we will endure like we always do: Magnificently. I dedicate this dissertation to all my family, in-laws, and friends, but also to my best friends, Randy Bailey, Grace Moore, and Danny Crisp. With me through thick-in-thin, tragedies and triumphs, partners in pain. You helped me continue soaring like an eagle. Finally, I dedicate this body of work to the African American Army Captains who truly run the Army. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made. You took the dirty, thankless jobs, working those early mornings and late nights, deployed and without your families for days, weeks, and months on end with little recognition, to keep us all safe. Your struggles were the genesis for this project and you have the undying gratitude of an old Soldier and private citizen.
Acknowledgements: 
First, I give honor to God, from whom this and all blessings flow. Foremost, I would like to acknowledge my dissertation Committee Chair, Dr. Kim Nisbett. From the initial request through the final reference, Dr. Nisbett gave me the best advice I have ever received: Stay Focused. It did not matter the situation, whether festivities or frustration with my own work, Dr. Nisbett provided me the tools and guidance to be successful in this process, and in my future endeavors. Dr. Nisbett, I cannot thank you enough. Next, I thank my dissertation committee, Dr. Sandra Nunn and Dr. Katherine Downey. Both of you were always staunch allies and helped keep me pointed in the right direction. You both truly epitomize what it means to be practitioner doctors, and you were outstanding examples for me. I thank the leadership of Rock Island Arsenal for sponsoring my research study from start to finish. Even after retiring, you showed that I am still part of the Army family. I thank you so much for your support. To my doctoral cohorts and best academic friends, Dr. Carolyn McMorran, DM, and Mrs. Catherine Brooks-Ellis. Carolyn challenged me weekly, and Catherine was my academic ‘Big Sister’. You both shouldered the load when I needed it the most, and I am forever in your debt. Finally, I would like to thank my study participants, who stepped up to the plate and made your voices heard. You were truthful and honest in your words, expressions, and struggles with mentoring, and were more than willing to contribute to this new body of knowledge. Your insights and initiative may lay the groundwork for the future of Army and military mentoring processes, and I am deeply grateful to each of you.