Is Engendered Leadership and Equality One in the Same?
What’s interesting in institutions of higher learning is that women want structured leadership with sensitivity. In addition, women, as well as men, both want to know that the leadership at the helm has a vision, and a plan for achieving that vision. Today more than ever before, due to turbulent and uncertain employment times, we want to know what’s expected, so we don’t disappoint our employers and know what course of action is most efficient to achieve the results leadership desires. It boils down to the following if leadership is targeted to develop and nurture their person, which interestingly enough has little to do with gender.
They must have
b. Definition of goals
c. Clearly defined expectations
These are the core values of leaders who attract followers. Of course, emotional intelligence is critical to possess, but if one doesn’t share their vision, it is unlikely they will attract followers. To go back to “d”, describing fairness, Colin Powell in a YouTube was asked what he thought was the most defining characteristic of leadership. Without a blink of the eye, he said “TRUST.” That’s what people seek in leaders and once again, it has nothing to do with gender
However, I would be remiss if I did not address the reality of the corporate world as I see it as a Branding Expert and Executive Coach in terms of Gender observation. I am still seeing females moving up, commanding great support from leadership at mid management but hitting a glass ceiling at the senior level. On one hand, it’s nothing about gender and on the other hand, it’s all about gender.
Analyzing the roadblocks, here are my perspectives.
Females have qualities that are now being recognized as critical to the new leadership of this decade – empathy and collaboration. Depending on which side of the fence you sit on, both qualities are most admirable, in addition to confidence, inspiration, visionary, articulate, presence, etc. etc. But women still face the trap of the double bind, which I call “Catch 22”.
While men demonstrating the softer skills creates a powerful leadership presence, for women to demonstrate the same qualities will probably be seen as too soft. Then comes the biggest challenge of how to demonstrate their authentic selves and incorporate the more typical “male” traits of authority, directiveness, assertiveness, competitiveness.
So, in conclusion, gender should not come into this equation, but given that we inherently see things differently (which can be wonderful), how do females incorporate the more traditional male traits and not be seen as AGGRESSIVE. How do they find the right role models when certain behaviors demonstrated by a female are still not valued? Of course, we will at some point meet halfway but at this time, there are few females up on top to inspire so many more aspiring to move up.
By the way, my best mentors have been from both genders.