Helping Leaders Achieve Sustainability

Archive for February, 2014

Leading today

Despite South Africa’s efforts in addressing women’s empowerment, they still remain under-represented in the formal economy, and more so in formal leadership positions.   It should also be acknowledged that in the last 20 years of our democratic dispensation, there has been marked change in women representation in formal structures and this is an undisputed fact and the statistics continue to improve.

Leadership can be described as a process of influence which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.  John Maxwell describes,  “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” and many women continue to play their role in ensuring that we improve our approaches and practices.

Whilst genuine strides have been made the sad reality of our society still pertains.  Whilst women occupy these formal positions there still exists gender stereotypes.  Engaging in the boardroom and leading change and organisations is still not seen as a woman’s role.  INSEAD (business school) identifies the existence of ‘second generation’ of gender bias.  They describe this as the powerful and yet often invisible barriers to women’s advancement that arise from societal stereotypes and sometime cultural practices.

Whilst women occupy these positions there are built in barriers that work against them and whose source is the gender stereotypes.  In some cases, this can lead to underrepresentation and lack of confidence in some women leaders.  Gender stereotypes can become a powerful yet invisible threat to women leaders and the organisations in which they work or lead. Companies focus more on increasing the number of women in their workforce to meet the gender quotas set by governments but they fail to recognize the business imperative, i.e. the potential contribution of women leaders to the improvements of the organizational performance and profitability.  When women eventually make it to the top, their performance goes through additional scrutiny and is more likely to be criticized than men. The impact of this is that women have to work extra harder to prove their competence.

One prevalent second generation gender bias is that those women who happen to rise to leadership positions in spite of these challenges are often thought to be either too aggressive or not aggressive enough, and what appears to be assertive, self – confident, or entrepreneurial in a man often looks abrasive, arrogant, or self-promoting in a woman. Research also shows that both women and men tend to express more positive attributes toward their man supervisors than toward their women supervisors and this causes difficulty for women leaders to be appreciated for their leadership style. Women need to work together, support and encourage each other. They should not view other women as adversaries and hinder the advancement of each other.

There is a need to develop a new developmental agenda that is grounded in theories of gender and leadership and seeks to tackle the challenges and address the basic stereotypes whilst building a new ethos.

Women should be at the forefront of their destiny and the upcoming Zenande’s women in leadership event offers an opportunity for this engagement to happen.  Central to the theme of the event is networking and sharing ideas.  I look forward to working with a whole range of women leaders whilst we celebrate the journey to date, recognize and inspire more women to take up leadership positions and also map out ways of improving the status quo.  See further details at www.zenandeleadership.comhttp://www.zenandeleadership.com/docs/CelebratingWomenLeadership-March2014.pdf

Pam Yako

Woman Leader today

Despite South Africa’s efforts in addressing women’s empowerment, they still remain under-represented in the formal economy, and more so in formal leadership positions.   It should also be acknowledged that in the last 20 years of our democratic dispensation, there has been marked change in women representation in formal structures and this is an undisputed fact and the statistics continue to improve.

Leadership can be described as a process of influence which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.  John Maxwell describes,  “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” and many women continue to play their role in ensuring that we improve our approaches and practices.

Whilst genuine strides have been made the sad reality of our society still pertains.  Whilst women occupy these formal positions there still exists gender stereotypes.  Engaging in the boardroom and leading change and organisations is still not seen as a woman’s role.  INSEAD (business school) identifies the existence of ‘second generation’ of gender bias.  They describe this as the powerful and yet often invisible barriers to women’s advancement that arise from societal stereotypes and sometime cultural practices. 

Whilst women occupy these positions there are built in barriers that work against them and whose source is the gender stereotypes.  In some cases, this can lead to underrepresentation and lack of confidence in some women leaders.  Gender stereotypes can become a powerful yet invisible threat to women leaders and the organisations in which they work or lead. Companies focus more on increasing the number of women in their workforce to meet the gender quotas set by governments but they fail to recognize the business imperative, i.e. the potential contribution of women leaders to the improvements of the organizational performance and profitability.  When women eventually make it to the top, their performance goes through additional scrutiny and is more likely to be criticized than men. The impact of this is that women have to work extra harder to prove their competence.

One prevalent second generation gender bias is that those women who happen to rise to leadership positions in spite of these challenges are often thought to be either too aggressive or not aggressive enough, and what appears to be assertive, self – confident, or entrepreneurial in a man often looks abrasive, arrogant, or self-promoting in a woman. Research also shows that both women and men tend to express more positive attributes toward their man supervisors than toward their women supervisors and this causes difficulty for women leaders to be appreciated for their leadership style. Women need to work together, support and encourage each other. They should not view other women as adversaries and hinder the advancement of each other.

There is a need to develop a new developmental agenda that is grounded in theories of gender and leadership and seeks to tackle the challenges and address the basic stereotypes whilst building a new ethos.

Women should be at the forefront of their destiny and the upcoming Zenande’s women in leadership event offers an opportunity for this engagement to happen.  Central to the theme of the event is networking and sharing ideas.  I look forward to working with a whole range of women leaders whilst we celebrate the journey to date, recognize and inspire more women to take up leadership positions and also map out ways of improving the status quo.  See further details at www.zenandeleadership.com – see upcoming events

 Pam Yako

Women in Leadership Event

International Women’s Day is upon us and Zenande Leadership is hosting a celebratory event on the 7th March 2014 at Helderfontein Estate.  The event promises to be an interactive, fun filled networking event.  A host of leading SA women leaders will be sharing their own experiences and insights on leadership.  See http://www.zenandeleadership.com for details.

The event takes a place where there is a renewed focus on the role women play in organization.  There is a global acceptance that more women are taking on leadership roles in many organisations and institutions whilst this is a welcome development a lot still needs to be done.  

The last session of the World Economic Forum (Davos 2014) had a particular focus on women.  This is in recognition of the increasing role women play in the global economy and in some quarters it is predicted that women will constitute the biggest emerging market in the world within the next 5 years.  This presents a tremendous opportunity for women and entrepreneurs and there is a need to engage in appropriate conversations in ensuring that women leaders are empowered and equipped to play their rightful role.

Are women ready to play the role?  What is needed to equip them? What should be the elements of the support program? What do women need?  The event will create a platform to explore these and other related questions.  When you read this please spare a moment to give an input

 

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