Women and leadership

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and Founder of Lean once stated that because real equality in the workplace and the home will make all of us better off and when we use the full talents of the population, our countries and companies are more productive. When men are 50/50 partners at home, marriages are stronger. When men are active fathers, their children are healthier, happier and more successful.

Her opinion is in line with the belief and research findings that have revealed that for the world to really develop and be a better place, women also have a role to play and should not be relegated to the background in decision making. Indeed, a woman empowerment expert and Chief Executive Officer of S.H.E. Global Media aptly describes this when she said, “Because the world needs feminine and masculine traits to solve problems of the world. The world needs women to lead more than ever to economically thrive and become more sustainable and peaceful.”

The role of women in leadership is indeed crucial at this period and women need to come to the understanding that their leadership is not only important in today’s world, it’s imperative whether in the public or private sector because it has been proved that organisations that are led by inclusive leadership teams make better decisions that deliver better results because unarguably through women’s innate leadership, they mentor, nurture, and empower, thereby leaving a legacy.

There is a dire need to improve on the advocacy on changes that support advancement of women within all fields and in every sphere of life as well as consciously addressing issues of latent and unconscious bias in the society while especially re-orientating women and enlightening men to know that they both have a symbiotic role to play in developing solutions to societal issues.

It is a fact that female leadership matters for better results because studies have shown that organisations with greater gender diversity among senior staff are more profitable. Women leadership is important in our world because it gives better results as women leaders have a measurable impact on the bottom line.

While it has been established that women are good leaders, the cultural and social bias under which many women are raised, especially in Africa continues to promote certain gender stereotypes which has made the feminine gender as a group internalise some unfounded beliefs associated with being a woman that has impacted too much negatively on their belief and confidence in taking up leadership positions. These biases make it difficult for many women to explore their potential as they have been made to believe they are taking up responsibilities that are for men and are consequently competing with the men in their live especially their spouses and thereby undermining the authorities of such men.

This is also the reason some men cannot cope with independent women; they feel uncomfortable and insulted that the women are exhibiting traits that stereotypically masculine and believe women that have ambition and belief in self-promotion are not submissive because they have acted at odds with prevailing gender stereotypes by aspiring to be leaders

Ambition in men is seen as a good thing even if it is aggressive but in women, it is perceived as lack of contentment, changing the natural order of events and competing with men. It is a fact that there is no level playing field when issues of leadership between the male and female are the topic.

The society must as a matter of priority change its pervasive culture and stereotypes for gender aspiration; it is time to push out outdated ideas of women and men’s roles and characteristics, especially in the workplace before we infect the next generation with the bug of false stereotypes. Also, there is a need to revamp the model of what we think effective leadership should be to create room for more gender balanced, diverse and holistic system of leadership.

The responsibility of effecting the required change is every individual’s assignment but women have a huge role to play in breaking the invisible shackles caused by bias and stereotypes about gender roles. Women should see themselves as models for coming generations and create a different system.

To be continued

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