‘There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in [all] women. It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.’ -Maya Angelou
It is not a new thing that often times women are undermined when it comes to the sphere of leadership. But women have always been in leadership positions- whether as nurturers, decision makers and multi-taskers. It is only sad that society equates and constraints women with limiting words that do not go beyond the title of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ and therefore do not capture the overall greatness of women. But, one thing that is certain is that women have always been in the shoes of leadership.
Going back in time to the Judeo-Christian creation story of man and woman. The woman was seen as taking charge and making decisions and even taking responsibility for the husband.
Even up to the life changing efforts of Mary Slessor in Africa, to the scientific input of women like Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, the noteworthy works of women can be felt in the world.
Even up till today books are being written, media outlets are weighing in by hosting forums and producing special reports, and affinity groups in the workplace are engaging and leaning in about the leadership deposit in the woman. What is this about?
LEADERSHIP IS NO GENES
It has become quite obvious that leadership is not gender specific and qualities of leaders are not genetically inherited.
Vince Lombardi said; ” Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
WOMEN ARE NOT NEW TO LEADERSHIP
Female influence cannot be denied throughout history. Women have been voices. From Sojourner Truth, to Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra VII, Rosa Parks, Mary Slessor, Wangari Maathai, Mary Seacole, Indira Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton.
These women have lit up the world from their little corners. Who can deny the ripple effect of the simple act by Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat and how it begun a revolution. There are countless of instance that point to the outstanding leadership of women.
Perhaps the relatively small number of women executives in our organizations breeds the perception of women in leadership as twenty-first century concept of bossiness and misogyny whereas records show the indelible impact made by women. In reality leadership is not by virtue of position but impact.
WOMEN HAVE CAPACITY TO FUNCTION AT ALL FRONTS
Women possess the innate capacity to function on many fronts. At the boardroom, as wife, and mother, and they also advocate well for peace. Some women define having all this as the balance of a successful career and a successful family life. Women can obviously multi-task.
This multi-tasking ability has made them to effectively and efficiently lead in their careers and at the same time take charge of their personal and family life.
Women like Michelle Obama, and Hilary Clinton have proven that women can succeed at juggling career and nurturing family.
That balance is a personal choice because the dynamics of the workplace will have an impact on one’s personal life. How women manage it well to become successful at both makes them effective at multi-tasking.
WOMEN HAVE COMPETENCIES
Research has shown that leadership is about competencies, not necessarily about wearing a traditional Leadership hat at the office alone, but at all relevant situations.
Competencies such as demonstrating communication and social skills, utilizing creativity and innovation, problem solving, demonstrating judgment and team leadership, resourcefulness among others.
Even women within the home, as leadership is not just leading in the boardroom but the embodiment of who you are, and a reflection of self-leadership.
So, if this is the case, why do we not have more women leaders? The answer is not only in possessing these competencies but in bringing them to bear in the workplace and in relevant situations.
THE TAKEAWAY FOR WOMEN IS OWN YOUR COMPETENCIES
The take-away for women in leadership is to walk in their truth. If you are great at strategy or leading teams, networking or analysis, own it.
Represent your skills and competencies. The diversity of experiences, perspective and values that women bring to executive decision-making, yields competitive advantage and creative team dynamics. So, for women, leading can be easy if you do what you have honed.
Thanks to the awareness that makes girls to be given equal opportunities as the male child, so they can shine on time.
Here, is to the strength, perseverance, grit, tenacity, and wit- that the woman continues to bring to the table.