Many atlases together hold this Globe on their shoulders. Who are they? Women who put life into our umbilical cords! They can also become true leaders in every realm of life and also run our governments and corporate bodies. The women leaders are capable of upholding our aspirations for a better world tomorrow.
We hear a lot about women empowerment these days. When we look at some of our incredibly strong women who attracted world attention like Michelle Obama, Malala, Indira Gandhi, Theresa May, Jhansi Rani, Oprah Winfrey, Marie Curie, Hillary Clinton, we feel that women are endowed with special acumen and power to rule this world. Madam Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water’. The kind of determination a woman can put up is never expressed better than the following quote by Shannon Alder:
“I will never accept life for what it is. I don’t need an easy life. My road was meant to be hard because anything worth having in this world will take me to the very edge of myself. I will overcome everything I have ever gone through and will make my future the one God intended me to have. I will pick up the pieces of this pain and sculpt it into art. I am not ordinary and never was. I walk into my birthright as a queen with head held high. I was born to do this!”
Women have through the ages proved beyond apprehension that they do not just inspire and motivate their kids and husbands but far beyond that they truly care for people around and the society they live in.
Research Findings of Korn Ferry Hay
Hay Group is a global management consulting firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a global presence. They conducted an eye-opening research collecting data from 55,000 professionals in 90 countries. Their key findings were truly illustrative. In about a dozen factors of “emotional intelligence” such as Inspirational Leadership, Coaching, and Mentoring, Organizational Awareness, Adaptability, etc., women outsmarted men by well over a 10 percent differential. The only category in which women didn’t receive any better score was “emotional self-control,” where no gender disparities were apparent.
If we consider these findings women should be eminently suited for taking up leadership and control. They might even excel men in this matter. Of course, these things would be hard to digest in a still male dominating society we have today.
Let’s understand women leadership
“Every girl and every woman has the potential to make this world a better place, and that potential lies in the act of thinking higher thoughts profound in depth and feeling deeper things. When women and girls, everywhere, begin to see themselves as more than inanimate objects; but as beautiful beings capable of deep feelings and lofty thoughts, this has the capacity to create change all around. The kind of change that is for the better! Remember, high in the head and deep in the heart! Antlers on your mind and anchors in your heart!.” This is Joybell proclaiming the facts that women can turn change managers and become catalysts for a new world.
Studies have been made on the women leader’s personality traits such as competitiveness, approach to risk, conscientiousness, assertiveness, emotion- containment, relationships, optimism etc. The traits of a good male leader such as assertiveness, inability to compromise on quality etc are sometimes mocked upon if the leader happens to be a woman. Inherent presumption and bias among the people’s mindset hold women back. The traits that are proven indicators and predictors of leadership are judged negatively if they happen to be women. People would easily start a murmur and good lady leaders know how to just ignore! A male leader can afford to appear cool and cut an occasional joke whereas some women leaders have a feeling that they are required to appear a bit serious and poignant if they want to be accepted as effective. This is merely a myth. You can find a large number of women leaders who are immensely jovial, sociable and cheerful all the way. Margaret Thatcher is an example. They carry themselves through the crowd very elegantly.
Women leaders but have a pronounced problem that they have to face a high dose of professional jealousies. They tend to face more criticisms from people of their own sex.
Attention to small cues
What are the main attributes of an effective leader? They need to demonstrate a greater degree of emotional and social intelligence, keeping their cool when passing through tough times. Emotional intelligence gives them the ability to identify and manage their own emotions and to pick up on the emotions of others, manage them. In doing so, they are able to build trust, grow influence, instill confidence and achieve better outcomes all round. They are more attuned to the emotions of those around them so that they can consciously respond to them, rather than just instinctively react from a threatened ego. Women pay more attention to small cues – from the expression on a person’s face to what they are saying and, just as importantly, what others are unwilling or unable to actually say. Putting themselves into other ’s shoes and imagining their situation, their challenges, and future, they can handle situations more effectively. The more they can tune into what is going on in the minds of people, the more effective they will be in building rapport, managing conflict, influencing their outlook and developing rewarding, longstanding, sound and trusting relationships.
They have to be at all times inspiring and building team loyalty and consensus. They have to act as empathetic mentors and create the next line of defense and nurture the next generation of leaders. Women have been proving their mettle and supremacy in all these so comfortably.
Great Margaret Thatcher used to say: ‘If you want something said ask a man if you want something done ask a woman.’ They say if women ran the world, there would be no wars.
But where are the women leaders?
We need a large number of leaders in each and every realm of life. We need them at our homes, schools, social circles, religious forums, and hospitals etc. Despite the immense progress and growth man has made in the last decade, women are still trailing behind when it comes to leadership roles in governments and in the corporate world. Pew Report says only 26 women are in CEO roles today in Fortune 500 companies, making hardly 5.2% of the female population. In parliaments worldwide, we have hardly 23 percent women and the Indian percentage is almost half of even that small percentage!
A Morgan Stanley report says, “More gender diversity, particularly in corporate settings, can translate into increased productivity, greater innovation, better products, better decision-making, and higher employee retention and satisfaction.” In the matter of running governments also women can be more dynamic and effective is a proven matter.
Despite the apparent and clear-cut benefits, leadership around the world remains tilted one side, with women accounting for less than one-fourth of top management positions globally. The disparity is even pronounced as you go higher in the hierarchy ladder anywhere.
It will call for greater awareness and a stubborn motivated resistance to overturn years of systemic inequality founded on male dominating mindset and to create opportunities for more female leaders. For this, we need to create a more inclusive and friendly environment. Any deliberate attempt to improve percentage in leadership roles are not going to bring positive results useless we encourage a work culture fostering a sincere equality approach.
I will conclude this article with an interesting quip from Michelin Jean Louis: “I’ve always thought that the reason the devil approached Eve and not Adam is because the devil recognized the power, courage, and the tenacity of a woman, the world would have you believe that Eve was a weaker sex and that is why the devil approached her. But think about it, a weak person would never disobey let alone desire to be God.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, Bsc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulum, Kochi. He is active also in the social service. He can be contacted at Josevazhuthanapilly@gmail.com
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